Boston police tweet about Red Auerbach called 'tone-deaf'

BOSTON — Boston's police commissioner apologized Monday after the department faced heavy criticism for a now-deleted Black History Month tweet that celebrated a white man.

The original post on the department's official Twitter account Sunday was in honor of the late former Boston Celtics coach Arnold "Red" Auerbach. The department tweeted that it was paying tribute to Auerbach for being the first NBA coach to draft a black player, start five African-American players and hire the NBA's first African-American head coach.

Several Twitter users responded by calling the post "tone-deaf" and "clueless."

The tweet, accompanied by a photograph of a statue to Auerbach at Boston's Faneuil Hall Marketplace, was deleted less than an hour after it was posted.

"BPD realizes that an earlier tweet may have offended some and we apologize for that. Our intentions were never to offend," the department said in a later tweet, which was followed by another honoring Celtics' great Bill Russell, the NBA's first black head coach.

In a statement tweeted Monday, Police Commissioner William Evans apologized for the post, saying it was "insensitive and does not reflect the values of the Boston Police Department."

Democratic Boston Mayor Marty Walsh on Monday called the original tweet "completely inappropriate and a gross misrepresentation of how we are honoring Black History Month in Boston."

He said the city was celebrating "the accomplishments and limitless contributions" of the black community, including activists, judges, musicians and Superintendent Lisa Holmes, the first African-American woman to lead the Boston Police Academy training program.

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This story has been corrected to show that the original tweet was Sunday not Saturday and that Auerbach was the first to hire an African-American coach, not fire.

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