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Top aide to Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs resigns over 'transphobes' gun tweet

The tweet sparked backlash from some Republicans, who criticized the violent imagery.
Gov. Katie Hobbs delivers the state of the state address
Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs delivers her State of the State address in Phoenix on Jan. 9.Ross D. Franklin / AP file

A spokesperson for Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs resigned Wednesday over a social media post that was criticized as promoting violence against people who are transphobic.

Josselyn Berry, press secretary for Hobbs, a Democrat, tweeted a meme Monday that featured a character from the 1980 film "Gloria" wielding a gun in each hand, accompanied by the text: "Us when we see transphobes."

The tweet, which was posted hours after a six people were killed in a shooting at a Christian elementary school in Nashville, Tennessee, has been removed and replaced with a Twitter label indicating it violated the platform’s rules.

The post drew sharp criticism, particularly on the right, for its depiction of violence in reference to transphobic people.

The conservative Arizona Freedom Caucus blasted it as a "call to violence," tweeting Tuesday night that Berry “should be fired immediately.”

In condemning Berry's post, the group also called the suspected Nashville shooter "a deranged transgender activist."

The suspected shooter, whom Nashville police identified as a transgender former student of The Covenant School, was killed by police.

Asked for comment on Berry's resignation, Hobbs’ office referred to an earlier statement.

“The Governor does not condone violence in any form. This administration holds mutual respect at the forefront of how we engage with one another,” Hobbs' office wrote Wednesday. “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.”

Berry could not immediately be reached for comment.

The tweet also drew criticism from several Republicans who have backed legislation targeting transgender people or campaigned in opposition to transgender rights.

GOP state Sen. Anthony Kern, who sponsored a bill this year that would make “adult cabaret” on public property or anywhere it could be viewed by a minor a criminal offense, characterized Berry’s post as a “public message to shoot ‘transphobes,’” saying on Twitter it was “reprehensible and massively disturbing.” 

Kern's bill is part of a growing effort by conservatives in many states to restrict drag events.