The Flash showrunner Eric Wallace is "mad as hell" over comments made by Ralph Dibny actor Hartley Sawyer, who was fired from the series Monday after racist and misogynistic tweets published by the actor resurfaced on social media. A collection of offensive tweets — made before Sawyer joined Flash in 2017 — went viral when actress Skai Jackson was among those who brought attention to Sawyer's comments. In a statement released on Twitter, Wallace committed to "bringing permanent change" to the work environment of the CW series before promising to "continue to find Black and Brown writers, directors, actors and producers of all genders to help tell Flash stories."
"This morning, many of you learned that Hartley Sawyer will not be returning for season seven of The Flash. Concerning his social media tweets, they broke my heart and made me mad as hell. And they're indicative of the larger problem in our country," Wallace's statement reads. "Because at present, our country still accepts and protects the continual harassment — unconscious or otherwise — terrorizing and brutalizing of Black and Brown people, which is far too often fatal. That's why our country is standing up once again and shouting, 'ENOUGH!' and taking to the streets to bring about active change."
On his vow to bring "permanent change" to The Flash, Wallace continued, "This is a family show. But it's for all families. That includes Black and Brown ones. In order to facilitate this, I will continue to find Black and Brown writers, directors, actors and producers of all genders to help tell Flash stories. Their stories are part of the American narrative, too, and must be heard. And the more you hear and see us, the more you will begin to recognize one simple fact: We're human beings, too."
Referencing the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor, as well as global protests sparked over their deaths, Wallace added, "Murder is not democracy. Systemic and institutional white privilege is not equality. Suppressing the free press with violence is not liberty. The only way for you to be free is for all of us to be free." Wallace concluded his statement with the hashtag "Black Lives Matter."
In one tweet published in 2012, Sawyer wrote, "The only thing keeping me from doing mildly racist tweets is the knowledge that Al Sharpton would never stop complaining about me." In another tweet from 2012, Sawyer wrote: "As a lad, one of my favorite activities was kidnapping homeless women and cutting off their breasts." In 2014, the actor tweeted he "enjoyed a secret boob viewing at an audition today." In a separate tweet, Sawyer wrote, "If I had a wife I would beat the hell out of her tonight lol."
A previous statement released by Wallace, The CW, and producers Warner Bros. TV and Berlanti Productions said the team behind Flash "do not tolerate derogatory remarks that target any race, ethnicity, national origin, gender, or sexual orientation. Such remarks are antithetical to our values and polices, which strive and evolve to promote a safe, inclusive and productive environment for our workforce."
In an apology posted to Instagram, Sawyer wrote his words "can and have caused pain and embarrassment, along with feelings I can only imagine, to supporters and fans, my cast mates, the crew, my colleagues and friends. I owe them all an apology. And I owe each of you an apology. Thank you for holding me accountable."
Adding he's "incredibly sorry, ashamed, and disappointed" in his behavior, Sawyer continued, "I want to be very clear: this is not reflective of what I think or who I am now. Years ago, thanks to friends and experiences who helped me to open my eyes, I began my journey into becoming a more responsible adult — in terms of what I say, what I do, and beyond."