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Blackman condemns social media posts by Rogers about Buffalo mass shooting

By Howard Fischer/Capitol Media Services
Published: Thursday, May 19, 2022 - 11:17am

State Rep. Walt Blackman publicly declared that the people of the northern Arizona legislative district he shares with Sen. Wendy Rogers don't agree with the Twitter post she made this past weekend about the murder of 10 people in Buffalo by a white supremacist.

And what he said he got in return was a not so subtle slap from her: He said Rogers cut him off from reading any of her future Twitter posts.

"She's able to give criticism, but she can't take it back," Blackman told Capitol Media Services. But he is not withdrawing what he said about her — though he never mentioned her by name — in a nearly three minute speech Tuesday on the House floor.

Rogers, for her part, said in a message to Capitol Media Services that she doesn't recall blocking Blackman following his speech, saying that "must have been a long time ago." Anyway, she said, Blackman has multiple accounts.

"I don't think I have blocked all of these accounts," she said — at least not yet. "Maybe I will, maybe I won't."

The post that caused the stir is simple.

"Fed boy summer has started in Buffalo," she wrote, a comment that was widely interpreted to mean that the shooter actually was a federal agent and that the incident was a "false flag" operation by the government.

The Senate on Monday voted to open an inquiry to determine if Rogers violated ethical rules that govern the conduct of lawmakers.

Blackman, however, felt the need to do more. So on Tuesday he took to the House floor to offer an apology of sorts from residents of the district they share which runs from Tusayan through Flagstaff to Snowflake — where Blackman lives — and Payson.

It started with what Blackman said was an apology to the House and Senate "on behalf of the delegation" for what was said by one of its members.

That "delegation" includes Rogers, Blackman and Rep. Brenda Barton, a Republican from Payson.

"I will tell you on behalf of the good people of Legislative District 6 that the thousands of constituents that I represent and that Rep. Barton represents, that we have good people in our district that don't agree with the vitriol and the tweets that went out this past weekend that further hurt the families of those victims that were lost over this past weekend," he said.

"And I would hope that my colleague in the Senate that has done this would stop and think, before any other tweets come out, about the families' losses and not about a political statement," Blackman said.

Rogers reacted shortly after the speech.

"Walt Blackman is a straight up weasel," she posted. "Yells all of the time and no one likes or trusts him."

"I didn't think I yelled that much," Blackman wrote back in response.

Rogers issued a statement following the Senate vote to open an ethics investigation saying her comment "was taken out of context and became a false narrative that's now the focal point of a firestorm created by certain race-obsessed members of the media." But she did not explain how the comment was "out of context" since the posting — the one that led to the complaint — was the entire text.

She also said she does not condone violent crime or racism and denounced the tragedy. And Rogers said she believes the ethics probe will "give me due process in this matter."

"And I am certain that once the facts have been analyzed, I will be vindicated," the statement reads.