Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs (D) asked her press secretary to resign Tuesday night amid backlash over a meme she tweeted that prominent conservatives in the state said was a threat against “transphobes.” The meme was shared hours after a mass killing in Nashville took six lives and left questions about the shooter’s gender identity.
Murphy Hebert, Hobbs’ director of communications, told The Washington Post that Josselyn Berry delivered her resignation after the governor asked for it.
The meme shared on Twitter by Berry depicts a woman wielding a gun in each hand, a still from the 1980 crime thriller “Gloria.” Berry’s caption alongside the image read, “Us when we see transphobes.”
In a statement Wednesday, Hobbs said she accepted Berry’s resignation, and that Berry’s tweet “is not reflective of the values of the administration.”
The tweet was shared the same day as the mass shooting that left three children and three adults dead at Covenant School in Nashville. The shooter, Audrey Hale, was killed by police.
Nashville police initially said the shooter was a 28-year-old woman, and then later said Hale was transgender, citing a social media profile in which Hale used masculine pronouns. The Post has not yet confirmed how Hale identified.
Berry shared the meme as a response to a longer tweet thread. “If you work in the progressive community and are transphobic, you’re not progressive,” she said, opening the conversation.
Berry’s post drew condemnation from conservatives on Twitter, who demanded that Hobbs fire her.
Republican Kari Lake, who lost the Arizona governor’s race to Hobbs last year, shared an image of Berry’s tweet on Tuesday and said, “If a conservative made light of a mass shooting & called for more violence, they’d be personally & professionally destroyed.”
“JUST IMAGINE if this was the spokesperson for a Republican Governor,” tweeted Daniel Scarpinato, who worked for former Arizona governor Doug Ducey (R).
“The Governor does not condone violence in any form,” said the statement from Hobbs’ office. “This administration holds mutual respect at the forefront of how we engage with one another.”
Berry’s Twitter account was locked by Wednesday afternoon. She did not immediately respond to The Post’s request for comment Wednesday evening.
The Nashville school shooting
What we know: The Nashville shooter fired 152 rounds into the private Covenant School during a rampage that killed six people, which has unleashed a new wave of anti-trans rhetoric. Released Nashville police bodycam footage shows officers confronting the shooter, and 911 calls capture the horror of the shooting. Experts say the police response in the Nashville school shooting was the “exact opposite” of the the Uvalde massacre response.
The victims: Three 9-year-old children, who were students at the school, and three adult staff members — the head of the school, a substitute teacher and a custodian — were killed. Here’s everything we know about the victims.
Who is the Nashville shooter? Police identified the shooter as Audrey Elizabeth Hale, 28, of Nashville. Hale was transgender, according to the police chief. Before the shooting, Hale warned a friend of “something bad” in Instagram messages. A motive is currently unknown.