Dave Chappelle Supporters Clash With Netflix Walkout Protest in Hollywood

Netflix employees organized a walkout on Wednesday to protest the company's defense of Dave Chappelle's new stand-up comedy special The Closer, but at least a few people showed up on Chappelle's side as well. Transgender employees and their allies in the company's Trans Employee Resource Group planned a mass walkout in response not only to Chappelle's offensive rhetoric but to Netflix executives' response to their outrage over the last two weeks. According to Deadline reporter Dominic Patten, some Chappelle fans showed up as well.

Patten attended the Netflix walkout on Wednesday in Los Angeles, California and posted live updates from the scene on Twitter. At around 2 p.m. ET, he wrote: "[Netflix walkout] turns a bit violent as [Dave Chappelle] supporters try to crash speakers at Hollywood rally." In one of his articles, he elaborated, saying that one self-avowed Chappelle supporter tried to rush the microphone while others were speaking at the rally. A second Chappelle supporter turned up with a sign reading "Dave is Funny," which resulted in a brief shoving match.

Speaking with organizers of the walkout and the subsequent rally, Patten learned that the activists had reached out to Chappelle to try to get him involved. They said that they received no response from the comedian or his representatives, and over on social media, many said that Chappelle was refusing to participate in a two-sided dialogue, preferring to preach in his specials.

The protesters recited a "list of asks" for their employer to make the whole situation right, starting by eliminating all images of Chappelle and references to him inside of the workplace. They also want the company to acknowledge that The Closer "causes harm to the trans community" and take responsibility for that, and to make an investment in more trans and non-binary content.

Chappelle's new stand-up special premiered earlier this month on Netflix, and a large portion of it was given over to discussions of LGBTQ+ activism - specifically comparing it to protests for Black American civil rights. Along the way, Chappelle parroted some transphobic talking points which have been used to justify violence against transgender people in the past, and declared himself a part of "Team TERF." Many long-time fans of Chappelle posted sad denouncements of his work on social media.

When transgender people began to point out the issues with Chappelle's special, Netflix got further into hot water by refusing to take it down and defending it as a case of "artistic freedom." Netflix co-CEO Ted Serandos later told The Hollywood Reporter that he "screwed up" with that remark, and Netflix issued a different statement on Wednesday in response to the walkout.

"We value our trans colleagues and allies, and understand the deep hurt that's been caused," it read. "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."

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At the time of this writing, The Closer and Chappelle's five other stand-up specials are still streaming on Netflix. The comedian himself has not commented on the rally.