Boston pro sports teams launch initiative to fight racism, hate speech

BOSTON (WHDH/AP) — The Boston area’s five major professional sports teams are unveiling a joint initiative to fight racism and hate speech.

The Red Sox, Patriots, Celtics, Bruins and Revolution launched the “Take the Lead” project at Fenway Park Thursday.

The event included the debut of a public service announcement featuring current players from all five teams opposing racism, hate, inequality and discrimination. The video will be shown at Fenway, Gillette Stadium and TD Garden.

The video’s message is simple: “Stand for our teams but don’t stand for racism.”

“It’s not between the veterans, the military and someone kneeling for the national anthem. It’s much bigger than that. It’s a human being thing,” said Celtics guard Kyrie Irving.

Former players from the Red Sox, Patriots, Bruins and Celtics, team executives, civil rights leaders and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh attended the event.

“If a Yankees fan gets up at Fenway Park and talks trash, he’s gonna hear it from his whole section,” said Walsh.

Red Sox CEO Sam Kennedy previously said the effort was sparked by racist incidents at Fenway Park. The first incident happened back in May, when Baltimore Orioles outfielder Adam Jones was called a racial slur by a fan. Earlier this month, protesters hung a banner reading, “Racism is as American as baseball” from the Green Monster.

“I think it’s important. We’re talking about race and everything that’s going on, especially in professional sports,” said Boston Police Commissioner William Evans. “It’s great to get this out there and see where we go from here.”

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