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Florida lawmaker’s aide fired for calling Parkland students ‘crisis actors’

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PARKLAND, Fla. (WFLA) – After a gunman walked into their school and opened fire, killing 17 people and leaving dozens wounded, a number of students from Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland have appeared on television programs to call for stricter gun control laws.

But with the newfound attention has come criticism and conspiracy theories.

In recent days, Emma Gonzalez and David Hogg, perhaps the most outspoken survivors of the shooting, have become targets of conspiracy theorists who claim the students are “crisis actors,” or paid actors who travel to the sites of tragedy to push an agenda, in this case, to call for stricter gun control laws.

Right now, YouTube’s No. 1 trending article is a Parkland conspiracy accusing Hogg of being a crisis actor. There are also a number of tweets claiming he was coached, scripted and planted at the school because his father was a former FBI agent. According to reports, Donald Trump Jr. has liked at least two of these tweets.

“Why would the child of an FBI agent be used as a pawn for anti-Trump rhetoric and anti-gun legislation?” asked the conservative blog Gateway Pundit. “Because the FBI is only looking to curb YOUR Constitutional rights and INCREASE their power. We’ve seen similar moves by them many times over. This is just another disgusting example of it.”

“Everything they’re doing is right out of the Democrat Party’s various playbooks. It has the same enemies: the N.R.A. and guns,” radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh on Monday.

On Tuesday, a Florida lawmaker’s aide was fired after he made disparaging comments about both Hogg and Gonzalez, The Washington Post reported.

In an e-mail to a local newspaper, Benjamin Kelley, 61, an aide to state Rep. Shawn Harrison (R-Tampa), said: “Both kids [Gonzalez and Hogg] are not students here but actors that travel to various crisis when they happen.”

“There is a clip on you tube [sic] that shows Mr. Hogg out in California. (I guess he transferred?),” Kelly said in the correspondence, according to the newspaper.

On Tuesday afternoon, Rep. Harrison announced Kelly had been placed on leave. Within hours, he said Kelley had been fired and apologized to grieving families about any pain his actions had caused.

Kelly also reportedly tweeted about his firing and said he had made a mistake.

Hogg’s father is an FBI agent, but all the other claims are untrue, the student said.

“I’m not a crisis actor,” Hogg told CNN’s Anderson Cooper on AC360 Tuesday. “I’m someone who had to witness this and live through this and I continue to be having to do that.”

“I’m not acting on anybody’s behalf,” he added.

According to CNN, Hogg was confirmed by Broward County School Superintendent Robert Runcie as a student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Sen. Marco Rubio came to the teenager’s defense on Tuesday, tweeting: “Claiming some of the students on tv after #Parkland are actors is the work of a disgusting group of idiots with no sense of decency.”

An official GoFundMe campaign has been created by the Broward Education Foundation. The funds raised will be used to provide direct relief and financial support to the victims and families following the shooting in Florida.WHAT OTHERS ARE CLICKING ON RIGHT NOW:

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