State Watch

Aide to Fla. state lawmaker falsely claims shooting survivors are ‘actors,’ not students

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.” 

In a tweet of his own, Harrison quickly sought distance from the characterization and said the aide has been placed on administrative leave:

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.  

“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 Kingston (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.

Tags Florida florida high school shooting Jack Kingston
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