The press secretary for Arizona Governor Katie Hobbs has resigned after facing strong criticism for posting a meme suggesting violent measures against transphobes in the wake of the Nashville school shooting, during which three children and three adults were killed.
Police have said that the suspect in the shooting, Audrey Hale, 28, was a trans man, prompting dangerous anti-trans rhetoric from Republican lawmakers and far-right figures, as reported by The Independent.
Hale was shot and killed by police.
On Monday night, Hobbs spokesperson Josselyn Berry posted an image from the 1980 film Gloria of a woman holding a gun in each of her hands.
“Us when we see transphobes,” she wrote, according to the Arizona Republic.
The post has since been taken down and access to her Twitter account has since been restricted to followers approved by Ms Berry.
Ms Berry’s resignation was confirmed by KPNX in Phoenix on Wednesday.
The Office of Governor Hobbs released a statement, saying that “the Governor does not 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. The Governor has received and accepted the resignation of the Press Secretary”.
On Tuesday, the tweet was used by Republicans and right-wing figures to argue that it was pushing for violence and that it was tone-deaf.
The members of the Arizona state legislature furthest to the right are part of the Arizona Freedom Caucus, which called for Ms Berry to be fired.
“Less than 12 hours after the tragic shooting in Nashville by a deranged transgender activist @katiehobbs’ Press Secretary calls for shooting people Democrats disagree with. Calling for violence like this is un-American & never acceptable. @joss_berry should be fired immediately,” the caucus tweeted on Tuesday night.
The caucus has been fighting back against the governor on repeated occasions since she took office earlier this year. They have threatened to sue Ms Hobbs over her first executive order, which broadened protections against discrimination to also include gender.
Caucus leader state Senator Jake Hoffman said that Ms Berry was “threatening to shoot people Democrats disagree with less than 12 hours after the Nashville shooting,” according to The Republic.
Earlier on Monday, Ms Berry posted about trans rights, saying that if you “work in the progressive community and are transphobic, you’re not progressive”.
“Not sure these transphobic-from-the-left posers know who they’re messing with,” one Twitter user responded, prompting Ms Berry to post the image from Gloria along with the comment which has since sparked uproar amongst conservatives.
Daniel Scarpinato, the former chief of staff to former Republican Arizona Governor Doug Ducey, told The Republic that Ms Berry’s tweet was “below the dignity of the office of the governor”.
“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,’” he said.
Ms Hobbs is the first Democratic governor in Arizona in 14 years and she has frequently been at odds with the Republican legislature.
The GOP in the state has pushed several bills restricting LGBT+ rights, including trans rights, which Ms Hobbs has said she will veto.