Grey’s Anatomy star Jesse Williams has been no stranger to using his celebrity platform to speak out against police brutality and the “criminalization of the black body,” so it was no surprise to see the actor unleash a series of tweets condemning those attempting to justify the recent killings of unarmed Black men by police.
National discussions and angry protests about the brutal attacks on Black people at the hands of police officers have been sparked once again after videos of the deaths of Walter Scott and Eric Harris were released to the public.
The videos served as a troubling reminder of just how cruel law enforcement can be when dealing with Black suspects.
While the footage of a reserve sheriff deputy fatally shooting Harris as he lay on the ground on April 2 caused many of the video’s viewers to cringe in disbelief, others still attempted to justify the shooting.
The self-proclaimed “patriots” discussed sympathy for the officer who they believed was under emotional stress or tried to paint Harris out to be such an awful criminal that he, somehow, deserved the fate that was granted to him.
Williams was quick to take aim at those justifications of another unarmed Black man’s death.
“ATTN: all of you justify-anything ‘patriots’ who reflexively spout excuses great & small for ANY & ALL violent death of Black/African people,” Williams tweeted on Monday. “Kindly provide a list of offenses that are punishable by violence & public execution at the hands of men uniformed by gov’t &/or whiteness.”
Williams, like many other people in the Black community, was uninterested in waiting for an answer. He knew all too well what the reality of the situation was.
“We will [not] wait,” he continues with another series of tweets that he numbered in order to make their order clear and apparent. “You will not answer. You never do. We’ve been taking voracious notes and are well acquainted with the list you won’t show us.”
That’s when Williams answered the question himself.
“Despite centuries of changing variables & compounding offenses, your every [in]action reveals a list holding only two words: BE BLACK,” he continued. “You know what’s worse than living under constant siege by inane, anti-intellectual, contortionist sloganeering & policy? Being KILLED by it.”
“You never demand ‘balance’ or ‘all sides’ represented when vilifying blackness before, during or after killing those wearing it,” Williams continued. “But how dare we say ‘Stop, you’re hurting me.’ Without also showering our assailant w/ high praise.”
In his final tweets, Williams pointed to the contradiction between what many of these “patriots” say America represents and what the actual actions of America’s people embodies.
In the so-called “land of the free,” it still seems as if freedom is a luxury reserved for the few and the elite.
“Keep TELLING us what America stands for, while we WATCH her fall for it,” another tweet read. “America stands for exactly what Americans will stand for. History doesn’t write itself, it must be lived and practiced. #Try.”
This isn’t the first time the star has spoken out about the oppression of the Black community.
When chaos was sweeping the city of Ferguson and unarmed teen Michael Brown was being labeled as a criminal far more frequently than he was being acknowledged as a victim, Williams took to CNN to address the media’s role in oppressing the Black community.
“You’ll find that the people doing the oppressing always want to start the narrative at a convenient part, or always want to start the story in the middle,” he said back in August 2014. “This started with a kid getting shot and killed and left in the street for four hours.”
As far as mainstream media was concerned, however, it started with a boy who allegedly robbed a convenient store of a pack of cigars—a crime that was suddenly considered punishable by death.