A banner reading “Racism is as American as baseball” was hung over the Green Monster at Fenway Park during a game between the Red Sox and Athletics on Wednesday night. It reportedly remained in place for a few minutes before being removed by stadium security, and the fans who hung the sign were ejected.
“We are a group of white anti-racist protesters,” the fans said in a statement to The Washington Post. “We want to remind everyone that just as baseball is fundamental to American culture and history, so too is racism. White people need to wake up to this reality before white supremacy can truly be dismantled. We urge anyone who is interested in learning more or taking action to contact their local racial justice organization.”
The Red Sox released a statement that said the banner was a "violation of the club’s policy prohibiting signs of any kind to be hung or affixed to the ballpark" and that "the individuals involved were escorted out of Fenway Park.”
A member of the group, who spoke with The Post via email on condition of anonymity, said the group at Fenway consisted of five individuals, with the fifth member “doing documentation across the stadium.” The person said the quintet was “not associated with any particular organization although all of us do work as organizers in various Boston groups that combat white supremacy and racism.”
Some observers Wednesday were left confused as to whether the banner was a condemnation or an endorsement of racism. ESPN reported that umpire Joe West was involved in the decision to have the sign and fans removed, and some other fans at the ballpark booed as the foursome was escorted out.
Episodes of racism are entwined in the history of the Red Sox, who were the last franchise in MLB to integrate, passing on the likes of Jackie Robinson and Willie Mays. Red Sox owner John Henry recently said he was pushing to change the name of a street outside Fenway to no longer honor the longtime former owner associated with racist practices.
In May, Orioles outfielder Adam Jones said he was “called the n-word” by Red Sox fans at Fenway. The team issued an apology, and Boston and MLB officials condemned the incident.