The group of five anti-racism protesters who brought a sign reading "Racism is as American as baseball" into Fenway Park on Wednesday and hung it over the Green Monster did so to "have a conversation" about racism in Boston, an "extremely segregated city," a group member said.
"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, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told Evan Drellich of CSNNE. “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."
In the top of the fourth inning Wednesday, as the Boston Red Sox looked to erase an early deficit against the Oakland Athletics, the group, perched in the front row of the Green Monster seats, unfurled their black and white sign and draped it over the massive left-field wall. After several minutes, security intervened, removing the banner and ejecting four protesters from the ballpark (the fifth group member was located elsewhere in the stadium). According to multiple reports, no arrests were made, nor were the protesters banned from the ballpark.
Some were unclear about the group's message, however, as the phrasing generated plenty of comments on social media that the statement could be interpreted as something other than a condemnation of racism. The group member, who noted that the Black Lives Matter movement was one of the inspirations for their protest, said that inability to determine whether the message was pro- or anti-racism was, itself, telling.
"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."
In a statement, a Red Sox spokeswoman explained that the four group members were kicked out of the stadium for hanging a banner "in violation of the club’s policy prohibiting signs of any kind to be hung or affixed to the ballpark."