Amid the continued fallout over a Dave Chappelle special, Netflix employees walked out of the company’s Hollywood office and joined demonstrators in support of the transgender community Wednesday morning.
The rally with activists and public figures took place at Netflix’s building on 1341 Vine St., with dozens gathering before transgender Netflix employees and their allies walked out.
Organizers said the walkout is meant to “underscore the importance of responsible content offerings that prioritize the safety and dignity of all marginalized communities.”
The demonstration follows backlash over Dave Chappelle’s standup special “The Closer” on Netflix, which has been criticized as being transphobic.
Netflix Inc. Co-Chief Executive Ted Sarandos sparked internal dissent among the streaming giant’s employees when he defended the special and said it wouldn’t translate to real-world harm.
Sarandos later said he “screwed up” in his efforts to communicate with the workers, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Ahead of the walkout, Netflix issued a statement saying: “We value our trans colleagues and allies, and understand the deep hurt that’s been caused. We respect the decision of any employee who chooses to walk out, and recognize we have much more work to do both within Netflix and in our content.”
At the demonstration, speakers addressed the crowd and several participants carried signs, including some that read “transphobia is not a joke” and “Black Trans live Matter.”
“As Black trans people, as trans people, as non-binary people, we are ultimately all we have,” Community activist Neverending Nina said, standing among hundreds gathered for the demonstration. “So if we don’t speak up for ourselves, then who will?”
Walkout organizers, Netflix employee group Team Trans*, said they will present a “list of firm asks” to Sarandos after the demonstration.
“We just want to make sure that these entities are being held accountable, and actually provide change to better the community that has been dealt trauma by issuing certain propaganda in this space,” Nina said.
Some counter-protesters arrived outside the Netflix office, carrying signs saying “We like Dave” and “We like jokes.”
Counter-protester Gigi Larue said many comedians “take jabs” at everyone.
“You may not like what he has to say, but don’t listen,” said Gigi Larue. “You don’t get to silence his voice and silence the voices of people who support him.”
Some of those who take issue with Chappelle’s special argue that it could incite harm against the trans community.
“Comedy is for everyone, but we also know that there is truth in jokes,” Nina said. “And so we if anyone has not been around a trans person ever in their life but they also have always heard jokes about trans people, then that bias will show up when they finally get introduced to trans person.”