Arizona Democratic Gov. Katie Hobbs’ spokesperson has resigned amid controversy over a social media post suggesting violence posted hours after the deadly shooting at a Nashville school on Monday.
The Governor’s office confirmed Wednesday that Press Secretary Josselyn Berry resigned from her job and Hobbs accepted the resignation.
“The governor does not condone violence in any form,” a statement from Hobbs’ office reads. “This administration holds mutual respect at the forefront of how we engage with one another. The post by the press secretary is not reflective of the values of the administration.”
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Berry’s post on Twitter late Monday caused uproar online, particularly among conservatives who dubbed it tone deaf, offensive and contrary to criticism from progressives that Republicans are doing too little about gun violence.
The controversial tweet included a clip from the 1980 movie “Gloria,” featuring actress Gena Rowlands with a handgun in each hand pacing forward a few steps. “Us when we see transphobes,” Berry wrote in the post sharing the image.
Berry posted earlier in the day Monday about transgender rights and progressive politics, saying if you “work in the progressive community and are transphobic, you’re not progressive.” It is unclear what she was referring to.
“Not sure these transphobic-from-the-left posers know who they’re messing with,” another Twitter user replied, prompting Berry’s tweet referencing people who fear or discriminate against the transgender community, and adding the image of the armed actress.
Berry joined the Hobbs administration after the November election, prior to which she worked as a spokesperson for the Arizona Democratic Party.
Her post was made hours after a mass killing at a Nashville school where the shooter was identified by law enforcement authorities as a transgender person. Six people — three of them 9 year old students — were killed.
Tweet ‘below the dignity of the office’
The tweet followed a day of attention on Nashville, where a 28-year-old armed with several weapons killed three 9-year-olds and three adults at a private Christian school just after noon. Police identified the shooter, who was killed, as using male pronouns but assigned female at birth. Police have not released possible motives for the attack.
Daniel Scarpinato, a former chief of staff and spokesperson for former Republican Gov. Doug Ducey, called Berry’s tweet offensive and tone deaf in light of the shooting several states away but also “below the dignity of the office of the governor” given Berry’s proximity to Hobbs.
“I don’t think anyone, no matter your political leanings, would look at that tweet — any sane, professional person would look at that tweet and say, ‘This is how I want one of the top advisers to the governor of my state to conduct themselves,'” Scarpinato said.
Hobbs, a Democrat who was narrowly elected last year, has pledged to be a governor for all Arizonans, frequently urging the Republican-majority Legislature to work with her on issues like education funding, water resources and affordability. Republican leaders for their part have said Hobbs went too far left in her first months in office, pointing to her proposal to end the state’s universal private school voucher program and fund some reproductive health care programs.