An aide to a Florida state lawmaker has been placed on leave after he falsely claimed that two of the survivors of last week's school shooting in Parkland, Fla,. who appeared in a CNN interview were actors.
Tampa Bay Times Washington bureau chief Alex Leary said in a tweet on Tuesday that a staffer to state Rep. Shawn Harrison (R) emailed him saying, "Both kids in the picture are not students here but actors that travel to various crisis when they happen."
An aide to state Rep. Shawn Harrison, using state email, sent me this: "Both kids in the picture are not students here but actors that travel to various crisis when they happen." https://t.co/UFD1ZXGNjr— Alex Leary (@learyreports) February 20, 2018
In a tweet of his own, Harrison quickly sought distance from the characterization and said the aide has been placed on administrative leave:
I was just made aware that my aide made an insensitive and inappropriate allegation about Parkland students today. I have spoken to him and placed him on leave until we determine an appropriate course of action. I do not share his opinion and he did so without my knowledge.— Shawn Harrison (@Shawnfor63) February 20, 2018
The claim that survivors of mass shootings are "crisis actors" is a common conspiracy theory that sometimes appears after high-profile shootings.
The aide was reportedly referring to a Monday interview on CNN's "New Day" with survivors Emma Gonzalez and David Hogg.
"Disband, dismantle ... don't make another organization under a different name. Don't you dare come back here," Gonzalez said, referring to the National Rifle Association (NRA) in the interview.
Gonzalez also targeted politicians who are accepting money from the NRA.
“If they accept this blood money, they are against the children,” she said. “You’re either funding the killers, or you’re standing with the children.”
Nikolas Cruz allegedly killed 17 people and injured numerous others after he opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School last week.
The shooting has reignited the national debate over gun control, with students and survivors emerging as some of the most outspoken voices.
Students on Tuesday boarded buses in Parkland, Fla., to travel to Tallahassee to meet with lawmakers on gun control.
Students and advocates have also played a role in organizing the nationwide "March for Our Lives," which will take place on March 24.
However, some online have claimed that the students have been coached by Democrats or gun control advocates.
Emma Gonzalez forgot ask why nothing was done after the authorities were called to the shooters house 39 times or why the FBI ignored the threat.— Kambree Kawahine Koa (@KamVTV) February 17, 2018
This chick was coached. Democrats used a innocent girl as a pawn.
"I think it's a horrible tragedy, and I am heartbroken that young people have gone through this, and I hope that it never happens again," former Rep. Jack KingstonJohon (Jack) Heddens KingstonThe Hill's Top Lobbyists 2020 Lobbying world Disagreements are a part of our process MORE (R-Ga.) said during an interview on CNN.
"I also know that their sorrow can very easily be hijacked by left-wing groups who have an agenda. ... Do we really think 17-year-olds, on their own, are going to plan a nationwide rally?"
—Updated at 5:55 p.m.