Sandra Atkinson said she still believes the students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas are being used, writing "Everything they’re doing is right out of the Democrat Party’s various playbooks."
Okaloosa County’s elected Republican State Committeewoman has apologized after 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 statement: “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 singing the national anthem at a Donald Trump political rally. Atkinson said she’s been contacted by several people since then who have criticized her for putting up the post.
Atkinson said, although 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 Atkinson's post, as 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 state Republican Party could 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.