Jesse Williams' passionate speech taking on racism at this year's BET Awards was easily one of the night's most memorable moments, and despite the Grey's Anatomy actor and political-activist receiving a standing ovation, it appears not everyone agreed with his words.
A petition was started on the popular site Change.org demanding the 34-year-old actor be fired from the long-running ABC series, Grey's Anatomy. Williams has starred on the medical drama since 2009.
During his speech, Williams argued for the right to equality and railed against racism in America. "Freedom is somehow always conditional here," he told the audience. "Freedom is always coming in the hereafter, but you know what, though? The hereafter is a hustle. We want it now."
Williams also spoke of law enforcement in his speech, stating, "We've been looking at the data and we know that police somehow manage to de-escalate, disarm and not kill white people every day," Williams said. "So what's going to happen is we're gonna have equal rights and justice in our own country or we will restructure their function, and ours."
The petition was started by Erin Smith on July 1, 2016 and states that Williams "spewed a racist, hate speech against law enforcement and white people," adding that "if this was a white person making the same speech about an African American, they would have been fired."
The petition also references the firing of actor Isaiah Washington from the same show after publicly making anti-gay remarks towards his co-star, T.R. Knight.
“Why was Burke’s (Washington) character fired from Grey’s
Anatomy…but nothing for Jesse Williams? Why the one-way street?” the petition reads.
In response to Smith’s petition, a separate one was started by Dawn Murphy the very next day pleading with Grey’s Anatomy executive producer Shonda Rhimes to not fire Williams. It quickly attracted much more support than the one to have him dismissed from the medical drama and as of Tuesday morning received over 20,000 signatures.