Hartley Sawyer has been fired from The Flash after a number of his old racist, misogynistic, and otherwise offensive tweets have resurfaced. The CW has announced that the actor, who played Ralph Dibny on the Arrowverse series, will not return for Season 7.
Showrunner Eric Wallace addressed the firing in a statement on Twitter, writing that the tweets "broke my heart and made me mad as hell."
Sawyer's firing comes in the midst of global protests against systemic racism and police brutality following the death of George Floyd on May 25 at the hands of the Minneapolis Police Department. Wallace wrote that the tweets are "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."
He also pledged to bring "permanent change to the work environment" on The Flash. "Yes, this is a family show. But it's for all families. That includes Black and Brown ones," wrote Wallace. "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."
Series star Grant Gustin shared Wallace's statement on Instagram with the caption, "I don't have much to add because Eric's thoughts are stated so eloquently and powerfully. I will say I was shocked, saddened and angry when I saw the tweets. Words matter."
In addition, Wallace joined The CW and Berlanti Productions in releasing a statement that reads, "Hartley Sawyer will not be returning for Season 7 of The Flash. 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."
Sawyer's Twitter account has been deleted, but screenshots of the tweets -- all sent before he joined The Flash -- have been making the rounds on social media for the past two weeks. One tweet, sent in 2012, said, "The only thing stopping me from doing mildly racist tweets is the knowledge that Al Sharpton would never stop complaining about me." Another, from 2014, said, "Enjoyed a secret boob viewing at an audition today." Many of the tweets contain references to abusing and assaulting women and children.
On May 30, after the offensive tweets began circulating, Sawyer issued an apology on Instagram. It reads in part, "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. 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."
Sawyer joined The Flash in 2017 as Ralph Dibny, the Elongated Man. He became a series regular in 2018.