TD Bank apologized and removed a Back Bay sign it admitted was “insensitive to Dorchester” on Thursday, but not before drawing ire from residents and Mayor Martin Walsh, a native of the neighborhood, who found the ad “insulting.”
“It’s an insult,” Walsh told reporters Thursday morning before the ad was removed. “A third of the city are Dorchester residents. They just insulted a third of the city. There’s nothing funny to that. And that’s nothing that I take any humor in at all. I think it’s disrespectful to Dorchester and Boston quite honestly and all the people there.”
The sign, which read, “When you’re Downtown, but your debit card’s somewhere in Dorchester,” was removed after backlash started online, where Twitter users called the sign racist.
— Reilly –Abolish ICE– Hay (@reillyhay) March 20, 2019
The company apologized and removed the ad.
“We are sorry that an ad that appeared in one of our stores was insensitive to the Dorchester community,” TD Bank said in a statement obtained by the Herald. “The ad, which was removed today, does not reflect our core values around diversity and inclusion.”
The statement didn’t explain how the sign came to light, something Walsh said he was interested in hearing.
“It appears to be really insulting and I have a problem with that,” Walsh added. “I’m a Dorchester resident, I grew up and lived there. There are many people from Dorchester. I’m not sure what the mindset behind it is. But, TD Bank has questions they need to answer to me and to the City of Boston.”
City Council President Andrea Campbell, who represents Dorchester, called the ad “offensive” but praised the company for removing it. She also pointed out that it’s not the first time an ad has targeted a majority-minority neighborhood in the city. In 2017, a Samsung ad read: “We’ll keep your work stuff safe if you go to Alewife and your phone goes to Mattapan.”
“I’m glad TD Bank responded swiftly to remove this offensive ad, which plays into negative stereotypes about Dorchester,” Campbell said in a statement. “This is sadly not the first time we’ve seen ads like this appear in Boston, and it makes me wonder how diverse their leadership is and what they’re going to do to change that? This is why I think racial equity training is so important, especially for public servants, but also for corporations, so that we deepen our understanding of the history of racism and how it is perpetuated.”