Jesse Williams' passionate speech at the BET Awards last month has led to over 6,000 signatures of a petition asking for his firing from the ABC television series Grey's Anatomy.
According to the petition, which was launched by Erin Smith on Change.org, Williams spewed a "racist, hate speech against law enforcement and white people at the BET awards." The messaging behind the petition comes after Williams spoke out about cultural appropriation and police brutality. In response, the actor tweeted on Sunday (July 3), "Do not promote empty people & their tantrums. Pure clickbait to gain followers, attention & money, for themselves, not you. Never you."
In her note, Smith, updated her Change.org petition to write: "A special note to all the people making assumptions: Who said I was white? Who said I’m a Trump supporter? This is not about politics. This is about equal consequences for racist behavior. If this was an Asian, Mexican, Caucasian or whoever saying the same exact words as Jesse Williams did, I would be against it and petitioned them to be fired if they did not suffer the same consequences as others have suffered for their irrational behavior. We’re all human. Why not act that way? Instead of lashing out with immature and obnoxious name calling, do something about getting everyone to look at everyone in the same light. Make a difference!"
Meanwhile, another individual, Pernell Walker, created a separate petition, titled "ABC: Keep Jesse Williams on Grey's Anatomy," which has garnered nearly 6,000 signatures as of this writing. Walker combats Smith's claim that Williams' speech was hate-filled. "Jesse's speech is an eloquent and passionate call to action against countless unarmed African Americans being murdered at the hands of Police across America," wrote Walker. "It is a beautiful demonstration and celebration of his 1st amendment right of free speech."
On Monday (July 4), Grey's Anatomy creator Shonda Rhimes responded to all the petitions by taking to Twitter to send out the following: