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Boston Red Sox put up massive Black Lives Matter billboard outside Fenway Park

Painting "Black Lives Matter" at Trump Tower
Painting "Black Lives Matter" at Trump Tower 00:54

The Boston Red Sox have raised a huge "Black Lives Matter" billboard outside their stadium, right before Major League Baseball's opening day. The message is emblazoned in the team's iconic font and faces the Massachusetts Turnpike. 

Team spokesperson Zineb Curran told CBS News in a statement Thursday that the 254-foot-long billboard is operated by the Red Sox Foundation and it will be "one of the ways we plan to feature the Black Lives Matter movement throughout the season as a way to amplify the voices of those who share our values, but may not share our platform."

"Recognizing that we have work to do ourselves, we wanted to show that we stand with those who are working to achieve racial equity," Curran said. 

The team has voiced its support for the movement since the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis two months ago. Team president Dan Kennedy backed players participating in protests. 

"Each of you helped shine a spotlight on injustice, and used your voice to advocate for change. Please know we stand with you," he said in a statement. 

The billboard also comes after visiting players have complained about verbal abuse. In 2017, the Red Sox apologized to former Baltimore Orioles star Adam Jones after he was taunted with racist slurs at Fenway Park. And last month, former player Tori Hunter revealed he had a "no trade" clause to Boston in all his contracts because of the racism he experienced at Fenway as an opposing ballplayer. 

"I've been called the n-word in Boston 100 times, and I've said something about it," he told ESPN. "It happened all the time, from little kids, and grown-ups right next to them didn't say anything... Not because of all the people, not because of the teammates, not because of the front office, if you're doing that and allowing it amongst the people, I don't want to be there.' 

In wake of Hunter's comments, the team addressed fans who have been using racial slurs toward players or workers at Fenway Park. The team mentioned at least seven incidents last season. 

"If you doubt him because you've never heard it yourself, take it from us, it happens," the team tweeted. "There are well-established consequences for fans who use racial slurs and hate speech in our venue, and we know we have more work to do. This small group of fans does not represent who we are, but are rather a reflection of larger systemic issues that as an organization we need to address." 

The team has its own racist past. The Red Sox were the last team in Major League Baseball to integrate Black players due in part because of its former owner Tom Yawkey, who was accused of being racist. The name of a street that was dedicated to Yawkey was changed in 2018 because the team wanted to "reinforce that Fenway Park is inclusive and welcoming to all."

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