NAACP, minority officers' group criticize 'Patriots Day' for erasing slain black officer

NAACP, minority officers' group criticize 'Patriots Day' for erasing slain black officer
Source: AP
Source: AP

The Boston NAACP, the Massachusetts Association of Minority Law Enforcement Officers and the family of slain Boston Police Department officer Dennis Simmonds have all joined to criticize the newly released historic thriller Patriots Day for whitewashing the role of minority officers responding to the April 2013 Boston Marathon bombings.

According to the Boston Herald, the film fails to even mention Simmonds, a black policeman who was wounded when the elder of the two bombers, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, threw a pipe bomb which exploded near Simmonds' head during a shootout in the nearby city of Watertown, Massachusetts. Simmonds died of an aneurysm months later, and a state medical panel report concluded his death was linked to "persistent" injuries from the shootout. 

An undated photo of Dennis Simmons provided by the Boston Police Department.
Source: 
Uncredited/AP

The movie acknowledges the three people killed when the two bombs exploded at the marathon, as well as the death of Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer Sean Collier, whom Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev shot and killed while on the run from authorities. The attacks wounded some 280 others.

The movie does not feature Simmonds at all, but instead stars Mark Wahlberg as the fictional Sgt. Tommy Saunders, a composite of various Boston officers

"Their failure to even acknowledge the death of officer Simmonds in the closing reel of the film or acknowledge in a meaningful way the roles that Boston police officers of color played in the death and capture of the bombers not only paints a distorted image of what truly happened that day, but taints our history," the Boston NAACP and the Massachusetts Association of Minority Law Enforcement Officers wrote in a joint statement, according to the Herald. "On this we cannot be silent."

"... There are still opportunities for the producers and studio to acknowledge the life and sacrifice of officer Simmonds," the statement continued. "In honoring his life and sacrifice the film will then honor all of the members of the Boston Police Department, black and white, who put their lives on the line."

"They could have put it in," Boston mayor Marty Walsh told the Herald. "I'm not sure if it's an oversight or what have you ... Hopefully, they do the right thing."

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Tom McKay

Tom is a staff writer at Mic, covering national politics, media, policing and the war on drugs. He is based in New York and can be reached at tmckay@mic.com.

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