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Hobbs’ press secretary resigns after outrage over violent tweet
Katie Hobbs in February 2023. Photo by Gage Skidmore (modified) | Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0
A spokeswoman for Gov. Katie Hobbs has resigned after Republican backlash erupted when she tweeted an image implying violence against transphobes.
On Monday, a shooting at a private Christian school in Nashville left three children and three adults dead. Later that night Josselyn Berry, Hobbs’ press secretary, tweeted a gif of a woman wielding two handguns from the 1980 movie “Gloria” with the caption “Us when we see transphobes” in a Twitter conversation about transphobia from progressives.
The tweet has since been removed for violating Twitter’s guidelines.
Berry did not respond to requests for comment.
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The Hobbs administration and the Republican-majority legislature have been at odds this session, chafing especially over a number of anti-LGBTQ bills unanimously supported by GOP lawmakers that Hobbs has vowed to veto.
Arizona Republicans responded with outrage to Berry’s tweet, calling the social media message reprehensible. The far-right Arizona Freedom Caucus, whose members have authored a number of anti-drag measures this session, demanded her dismissal.
“Calling for violence is NEVER acceptable,” the caucus’ official account tweeted. “@GovernorHobbs Press Sec. tweeting about shooting political opponents on the same day a trans activist shoots up a school is nothing short of vile & heartless.There is no room for this in AZ. Fire @joss_berry now.”
The 28-year-old Nashville shooter was identified by local authorities as being transgender, based on information from their social media and LinkedIn account. Conservative politicians and pundits immediately seized on that news as proof that transgender people are prone to violence, despite the fact that the data overwhelmingly shows that the vast majority of gun violence has been perpetrated by cisgendered white men. There have been over 100 incidents of mass shootings in the United States this year alone, and only four perpetrators since 2009 have identified as transgender or nonbinary.
Some felt the tweet amounted to a threat against Christian values.
“Is anybody on the Arizona news media going to discuss @GovernorHobbs press Secretary @joss_berry tweeting out that she oughta shoot practicing Christians?!,” asked T.J. Shope, R-Coolidge.
On Wednesday morning, the Hobbs administration announced Berry had resigned on Tuesday night, a day after she posted the offending tweet. In a statement, Hobbs said she doesn’t condone violence in any form.
“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,” she wrote.
Republicans celebrated the move as a win on social media.
“Good! #MissionAccomplished,” tweeted Rep. Travis Grantham, R-Gilbert.
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