"I am ashamed I was capable of these really horrible attempts to get attention at that time. I regret them deeply," a portion of Hartley Sawyer's apology reads

By Natalie Stone
June 08, 2020 04:34 PM
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Hartley Sawyer has been fired from The Flash after past tweets with racist and misogynist comments circulated online.

In a statement on Monday, the network announced Sawyer's removal from the series, on which he has starred as Ralph Dibny since 2017.

"Hartley Sawyer will not be returning for season seven of The Flash," The CW, producers Warner Bros. TV and Berlanti Productions and executive producer Eric Wallace said in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter. "In regards to Mr. Sawyer's posts on social media, we 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."

PEOPLE is out to the CW and Sawyer's rep for comment.

On Friday, actress Skai Jackson tweeted screenshots of Sawyer, 35, allegedly sharing multiple racist and misogynist messages years ago. (Sawyer's Twitter account has since been deleted.)

"Out at dinner and just exposed myself as a racist, AGAIN," reads a screenshot of one of his alleged tweets from September 2014.

"The only thing stopping me from doing mildly racist tweets is the knowledge that Al Sharpton would never stop complaining about me," reads another alleged tweet.

"Enjoyed a secret boob viewing at an audition today," reads an alleged tweet from February 2014.

While Sawyer has yet to comment on his firing, he issued an apology statement about his past social media posts on May 30.

"I'm not here to make excuses — regardless of the intention, my words matter and they carry profound consequences. And mine 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," his apology, shared to Instagram, began.

"My words, irrelevant of being meant with an intent of humor, were hurtful, and unacceptable. I am ashamed I was capable of these really horrible attempts to get attention at that time. I regret them deeply. This was not acceptable behavior. These were words I threw out at the time with no thought or recognition of the harm my words could do, and now have done today," he continued.

"I am incredibly sorry, ashamed and disappointed in myself for my ignorance back then. I want to be very clear: this is not reflective of what I think or who I am now," Sawyer said. 

The actor concluded: "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. I've largely kept that journey private, and this is another way that I have let so many down. I still have more work to do.  But how I define myself now does not take away the impact of my words, or my responsibility for them. I am very sorry."

In a lengthy statement shared to Twitter on Monday, The Flash's showrunner and executive producer Wallace addressed Sawyer's tweets and firing.

"This morning, many of you learned that Hartley Sawyer will not be returning for Season Seven of THE FLASH. Concerning his social media media tweets, they broke my heart and made me mad as hell. And they're indicative of the larger problem in our country. 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," Wallace began.

Wallace continued, "I, too, am committed to bringing permanent change to the work environment here on THE FLASH. Yes, 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."

"To those who still aren't sure why so many Americans have taken to the streets to make their voices known, I ask you to consider this: Every time a Black or Brown life is harassed, harmed or murdered, as in the case of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and too many others, our entire country fractures and moves further and further away from any moral authority we often claim to have in the world," Wallace said. "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. #BlackLivesMatter."

The firing comes as cities around the country are banding together to protest police brutality and systemic racism after the killing of George Floyd.

Floyd, an unarmed 46-year-old black man, was killed on May 25 after a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for over eight minutes while three others stood idly by.

The officer involved, Derek Chauvin, has since been fired and charged with second-degree murder, and the three other officers on the scene, also fired, were charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter. None have entered a formal plea.

Following Floyd's death, Sawyer posted a tweet and Instagram admitting to not having used his "platform to advocate for [People of Color]."

"I am white. I have white privilege. For too long, I have not used my platform to advocate for POC. I apologize to all my brothers and sisters. 'The burden cannot just be on the backs of black people to deal with it' -@ninaturner #BlackLivesMatter," his tweet read.

He captioned the Instagram post, "#BlackLivesMatter."