Red Sox

Planner behind Fenway 'Racism is American' banner explains anti-racist statement

UPDATE, 1 a.m., Sept. 14: The protest group member who spoke to CSNNE said Antifa Boston's claim of responsibility for hanging the banner at Fenway Park is "ridiculous."

"The five of us are in no way associated with Antifa nor did Antifa Boston have anything to do with the action," the group member wrote via text.

As proof, they provided an image of the banner when it was being unfurled ahead of the demonstration, as a test.

BOSTON — The group of five people who brought a banner into Fenway Park that read “Racism is as American as Baseball” were white anti-racist protestors, one of the group’s members told CSNNE on Wednesday night.

A group member agreed to explain how the night unfolded to CSNNE only on the condition of anonymity, because they did not want to detract from the importance they see in the banner’s message. 

Two people documented the night — one from afar and one from up close — while three people held the banner. The banner was unfurled in the middle of the fourth inning before stadium security quickly intervened.

“There were originally about eight people involved who had this idea, and those eight people come from various organizing groups in the Boston area,” the group member said by phone. “Mostly groups that affiliate with racial justice causes. And the banner came in response to the racist comments at the beginning of the season at Fenway [that Adam Jones spoke of]. 

“But overall, we saw, we see Boston continually priding itself as a kind of liberal, not racist city, and are reminded also constantly that it’s actually an extremely segregated city. 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.”

The Black Lives Matter movement was one of the group’s inspirations.

The banner's intended message didn't make it across to everyone clearly, however. On social media, some people thought the banner was promoting racism. Others simply noted ambiguity.

The group was somewhat surprised by the confusion.

"I guess we should have seen that coming, but we also didn’t think of it as an ambiguous message," the group member said. "It’s kind of telling that it is being interpreted as one."

The group expected to be ejected from Fenway Park. The group member said they had been in touch with IfNotNowWhen, a group that unfurled a banner with political messaging about the Middle East at Fenway in June.

A U.S. military veteran was honored as the banner was unfurled, but the group member said that timing was coincidental.

In a statement explaining Wednesday's ejection of four people from the park, the Red Sox said the banner was “in violation of the club’s policy prohibiting signs of any kind to be hung or affixed to the ballpark.”

The ejection of four people rather than five was because of the fifth group member’s distance inside the stadium. The fifth left on their own volition.

Fenway security personnel handled the matter professionally, looked at the group’s IDs and then released them, the group member said. One person walked up to the group as IDs were being checked and demanded the group be arrested.

“People booed us as we walked out, asking us to find something better to do,” they said.

A statement on behalf of the group was later emailed to CSNNE by the group member.

“We want to remind everyone that just as baseball is fundamental to American culture and history, so too is racism,” the group said in a written statement. “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.”