Republican State Committeewoman apologizes for post referring to Parkland school shooting survivors as “crisis actors.”
Okaloosa County’s elected Republican State Committeewoman has stirred up a bit of controversy by publishing a Facebook post referring to Parkland school shooting survivors as “crisis actors.”
Sandra Atkinson said Friday she recognizes now the post, to her personal page, helped perpetrate a cruel fiction about students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School who have chosen to speak out against gun violence in the wake of a Valentine’s Day shooting that took 17 lives.
“The posts I’ve seen were so convincing. Even the president’s son, Donald Trump Jr., liked a similar post. I, unfortunately, got fooled,” Atkinson said. “Maybe I was too quick to jump to conclusions.”
Atkinson’s post, which showed a photo of Marjory Stoneman Douglas students with a group of smiling people, read, “Crisis actors and production team take a group selfie just before they have to go out and tell their heartwrenching stories on TV.”
Atkinson added her own post: “Crisis actors hired who didn’t even go to Broward County school.”
A Pensacola publication picked up on the post and wrote a lengthy story about it, complete with a photo of Atkinson on stage saying the National Anthem at a Donald Trump political rally. Atkinson said she’s been contacted by several people since, who have criticized her for putting up the post.
Atkinson said, though she’s been asked to do so, she has declined to take the post down. She said she wants people to see the mistake she made and know she is accepting blame.
“I’m not afraid to admit when I am wrong, and 'eating crow' never tastes good, but I still believe the students are being used: as Rush Limbaugh said, ‘Everything they’re doing is right out of the Democrat Party’s various playbooks. It has the same enemies: the NRA and guns,’ ” the post said. “I never meant to imply in any way that lives were not affected, people were killed. It was a horrific [event] in our history in Florida and as a nation. I am sorry for this misinformation that I posted.”
Mark Franks, the chairman of the Okaloosa County Republican Party, said he was aware of the Atkinson post and so too, he said, is the Republican Party of Florida (RPOF). Franks said because the post was to Atkinson’s personal Facebook page — she also has a committeewoman page — he has no control over it, as he would if she had posted to the Okaloosa County Republican Executive Committee page.
The RPOF could choose to file a grievance against Atkinson, Franks said. Party officials did not return a phone call or email Friday.
“I tell people ‘you are your own person, but you have a title.' You need to hold yourself accountable to that title,” Franks said.