Red Sox

Fenway banner’s message sparks debate over organizers’ intent

A banner protesting racism is unfurled over the Green Monster during the fourth inning. Barry Chin/Globe Staff

After unfurling a large banner that read “Racism is as American as baseball,” four people seated in the Green Monster were ejected from Fenway Park on Wednesday night. According to a Red Sox statement, the group was removed for violating the club’s policy that prohibits “signs of any kind to be hung or affixed to the ballpark.”

Following the game, one of the individuals involved spoke anonymously with CSNNE’s Evan Drellich about their motives behind the act. In addition to citing the incident with Orioles center fielder Adam Jones, the group member referenced systemic issues they noticed in the city as a whole.

“We see Boston continually priding itself as a kind of liberal, not racist, city and are reminded constantly that it’s actually an extremely segregated city,” the planner told Drellich on the phone. “It has been for a long time, and that no white people can avoid the history of racism, essentially. So we did this banner as a gesture towards that, to have a conversation about that.”

Taking inspiration from the Black Lives Matter movement and other organizing groups in the local area, the person said the group was in touch with those who planned a similar occurrence back in June.

While the individual told Drellich that the group didn’t find their message to be ambiguous, the reaction on Twitter may speak otherwise. Unable to discern whether the sign was anti- or pro-racism, a large contingent of users expressed their confusion via social media.

“I guess we should have seen that coming,” the planner said in response to the puzzlement. “It’s kind of telling that it is being interpreted as [ambiguous].”

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Perhaps adding to the situation’s uncertainty, an unofficial Boston Antifa account also claimed responsibility for the stunt. In the video posted on Twitter, a heavily breathing masked man poses as one of the participants to explain the evening.

“Greetings. This is Boston Antifa. So as to why we did this tonight? Our statement in simple: We were largely inspired by Howard Bryant, who now writes for ESPN” he says behind a red cloth. “His article, ‘Don’t expect protests in baseball — it’s a white man’s game by design’ was inspirational.”

“Red Sox’ own history comes into play as well,” he continues. “Going back to Tom Yawkey, the team has made its name on racism. The Red Sox were actually the last to admit person-of-color players back in the days of Jackie Robinson.”

While his speech might seem convincing, the organizers who spoke with CSNNE told the network that they are “in no way associated with Antifa nor did Antifa Boston have anything to do with the action.” The group issued a new written statement later that night via email.

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