Scott Rogowsky, the host of HQ Trivia, a newly popular live trivia show game, commented during Wednesday’s evening show that Boston is a “city of racist cops.”
Rogowsky made the comment after asking players to guess which city called itself “the City of Brotherly Love.” The options were Chicago, Boston and Philadelphia. Before announcing the answer as Philadelphia, Rogowsky said, “Chicago is the windy city, the second city, the city of broad shoulders — not the city of brotherly love. Boston is the city of racist cops.”
Rogowsky’s comment incited conversation about the Boston Police Department on social media, mostly over Twitter.
Josef Blumenfeld, 50, of Natick, tweeted in response to Rogowsky’s comment that Boston is “the hub of the universe, the cradle of liberty,” and that HQ Trivia owed Boston an apology. In an interview, he said Rogowsky’s comment showed his ignorance of Boston.
“Anyone speaking should be a little more informed before they trash a city as great as Boston,” Blumenfeld said. “This is a city that’s known for coming together, not a city that’s being ripped apart by racism.”
Patrick Dufour, 22, of Dracut, responded to a tweet criticizing Rogowsky’s characterization of the BPD with a link to a video of a Boston policeman allegedly stopping a black man because he wouldn’t offer his name and wrote, “Or you could talk to a black Bostonian about race relations with the police.”
In an interview, Dufour said while he didn’t appreciate exclusively characterizing Boston as racist, there is undoubtedly a history of racial tension between the BPD and people of color.
“[Boston] is my favorite place in the world and it upsets me to see it painted like that,” Dufour said. “But clearly it’s an issue that is worth being talked about … There’s been incidents time and time again where it’s backed up [Rogowsky’s] statement.”
For the political discourse surrounding Rogowsky’s comment to lead to change, Dufour said the BPD should reach out to the host about his concerns, like Mayor Martin Walsh did in light of Michael Che’s comment on Saturday Night Live that Boston was the most racist city he visited.
The BPD was unable to comment by time of publication.
Beth Chandler, the interim president and CEO of YW Boston, a nonprofit organization working to end racial and gender disparities in Boston, said accusatory comments like Rogowsky’s fail to address the systemic nature of racism in institutions.
“There are practices and policies within the police department that are racist, but I would not necessarily categorize all of the police as racist,” Chandler said. “It’s important to talk about the practices and the policies and try to get away from talking about people.
Other Boston residents said they find racism in Boston to be pervasive, impacting more than just the policies of the BPD.
Roslyn Durham, 62, of Back Bay, said her son’s experiences in Boston have led her to believe that Boston is a racist city. One night when her son went to a bar, she said he wore his cap backwards and was threatened to be thrown out of the bar unless he flipped his cap around. Durham said her son felt that exchange was racially motivated.
Beth Beighlie, 57, of Roslindale, said the racist atmosphere in Boston is evident in the segregation of the city.
“I think Boston is the city of a fair amount of racist anyone,” Beighlie said. “It’s very segregated. You definitely have divided neighborhoods and not a lot of overlap, so I don’t think it’s unique to the cops. I think the whole scene here is not exactly welcoming.”
Sophia Brown contributed to the reporting of this article.