Democratic Sen. Kevin Parker is facing mounting criticism over a tweet directed at a Republican spokeswoman Tuesday urging her to “Kill Yourself” after she publicly shamed him for blocking a bike lane in midtown Manhattan.
The Twitter war began after a citizen traffic and safety watchdog with the handle @chesneycheckers tweeted two photos of a Volkswagen with a New York State Senate “Official business” placard on the dashboard fully blocking a bike lane.
“The whole of the 2nd ave bike lane btw 43rd and 44th is blocked by @placardabuse-rs, like this arrogant scofflaw from @NYSenate. Total assholes,” read the tweet
Candice Giove, the deputy communications director for the Senate Republican Conference, discovered that the placard belongs to Sen. Parker, but it does not match the license plate for the Volkswagen in which it was displayed.
“I got to the bottom of this. The placard is assigned to @SenatorParker. However, the license plate # on the placard does not match the vehicle,” Giove’s tweet read. “So he either used it in another car or gave it to someone to use, both of which are not permitted.
Soon after, Parker responded to Giove in a tweet to “Kill Yourself!”
“Did a Senator just write this to me?” Giove responded
Parker did apologize, but then added this in a follow-up tweet:
“@Candicegiove is on the wrong side of history for every important issue facing New York State!”
This tweet has elicited nearly 2,000 angry responses from the public and even some fellow lawmakers in his own conference.
A tweet by fellow Democratic Senator Luis Sepulveda states: “My mother died by suicide when I was a young boy. @SenatorParker was right to apologize for his comments as NO ONE deserves to be spoken to that way. If you are thinking about committing suicide please know that you are not alone. Call @800273TALK at 1-800-273-8255. #NotAJoke
Incoming Democratic Conference Leader, Andrea Stewart-Cousins, called Sen. Parker’s tweet inappropriate.
“I was disappointed in Senator Parker’s tweet,” Stewart-Cousins said in a statement. “Suicide is a serious issue and should not be joked about in this manner. I am glad that he has apologized.”
Others, including Senate Republican leader John Flanagan, were less forgiving.
“Earlier today, Senator Parker took to Twitter to tell a Senate aide to ‘kill yourself.’ This was reprehensible and it was wrong, and there can be no justification for it. Ever,” Flanagan said.
“I am angry and disappointed that Senator Parker would go after one of my employees, or any employee of the New York State Senate, in this way. Suicide is a serious issue, and his cavalier and harmful language shouldn’t be dismissed as just a poor choice of words. These words are beyond the pale and beneath the State Senate.
“There is simply no place for discourse like this in politics, in government, or anywhere. Actions have consequences, and as a member of the incoming Democrat Majority in the Senate, Kevin Parker should be reprimanded by his leadership immediately.”
Parker, who has recently introduced a bill that would require police agencies to examine social media posts for evidence of hate speech made by those seeking to purchase certain types of firearms in New York state.