Grey’s Anatomy actor Jesse Williams is facing two battling online petitions, one asking for him to be fired from the primetime drama, while the other is a protective response, supporting him and calling him a “brave leader.”
All of this is taking place following the actor’s fiery speech after receiving a humanitarian honour at the BET Awards on June 26.
The Change.org petition calls for Williams to be fired over the speech in which he criticized police in America, saying: “We know that police somehow manage to de-escalate, disarm and not kill white people every day.”
Started by a woman named Erin Smith, the petition takes issue with the fact that Williams, an African-American, was not punished in any way for his allegedly “racist” speech.
As of this writing, the petition is approximately 500 votes short of its goal. When it reaches 5,000 supportive votes, it will be sent to Grey’s Anatomy U.S. network ABC.
WATCH: Jesse Williams delivers a speech at the BET Awards on June 26.
In response to the petition, a supportive one popped up, imploring ABC not to fire Williams.
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“Jesse Williams is a bright man, passionate spokesman and a committed advocate of black people and #BlackLivesMatter who took a public stand on BET Awards show, risking his job and career for his beliefs,” reads the petition. “Now is the time for us to stand for Jesse and petition Shonda Rhimes and the other decision makers at Grey’s Anatomy and ABC to support this brave leader, not just by not firing him or in any way diminishing his role or pushing out, but by openly standing with him and speaking against hate in any form. Don’t just tell the racists, ‘No.’ Show them!”
The supportive petition has almost five times the votes.
Grey’s creator Shonda Rhimes shut down the possibility of firing Williams with a simple tweet.
Williams has played Dr. Jackson Avery on the hospital drama for seven seasons.
With files from The Associated Press