UPDATE: David Hogg, a Florida shooting survivor who was accused of being a crisis actor by a now-fired GOP aide, has responded to the ludicrous claim.
“I am not a crisis actor. I’m somebody that had to witness this and live through this and I continue to have to do that,” 17-year-old student told CNN’s Anderson Cooper. “The fact that some of the students at Stoneman Douglas high school … are showing more maturity and political action than many of our elected officials is a testament to how disgusting and broken our political system is right now in America. But we’re trying to fix that.”
His classmate, Sarah Chadwick, also confirmed he is not putting on a performance.
Hogg "can't act to save his life," she tweeted.
In the wake of the devastating mass shooting last week, survivors who are vocal about gun reform have been targeted by the right wing. The attacks might be seen as an attempt to silence these activists, but those plans have been thwarted as the movement continues to rise.
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
An aide to Florida state congressman was fired after lying about two Florida school shooting survivors and branding them as “crisis actors.”
Benjamin Kelly, the district secretary for Florida Rep. Shawn Harrison (R), argued to a Tampa Bay Times reporter, Alex Leary, that Emma Gonzalez and David Hogg — two survivors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School who are now advocating for gun control — are, in fact, “actors” who “travel to various crisis (sic) when they happen” — one of the most popular stories pushed by right-wing conspiracy theorists.
Here's the email. I asked for more information to back up the claim and was sent another email that linked to a YouTube conspiracy video. pic.twitter.com/VRSVOcjj3E— Alex Leary (@learyreports) February 20, 2018
After the offensive email, Leary asked Rep. Harrison for his response.
“If my aide disparaged a student from Parkland who is grieving than I will deal most strongly with my aide.… Clearly it was inappropriate for him to send that,” said Harrison and said he was “seeking more information.”
True to his words, Harrison announced he had fired Kelly.
Tonight Mr. Kelly was terminated from his position as my District Secretary. I am appalled at and strongly denounce his comments about the Parkland students. I am again sorry for any pain this has caused the grieving families of this tragedy.— Shawn Harrison (@Shawnfor63) February 21, 2018
In recent years, mass shooting victims’ families and survivors have been harassed by right-wing trolls, who go viral online by claiming certain tragedies were staged using paid actors, who wrongfully maintain they are witnesses or grieving relatives.
President Donald Trump’s eldest son, Don Jr., “liked” tweets posted by a far-right blogger, who theorized that 17-year-old Hogg is the son of a former FBI agent and is trying to push a false narrative by blaming the shooting on the president.
Alex Jones, the publisher of InfoWars, who asserted the Sandy Hook elementary shooting was a hoax and the parents and children were actors, also questioned whether the Florida shooting was a false flag.
Banner/Thumbnail credit: Reuters