Throwing flames: Use ‘illegal immigrants’ for ‘target practice,’ Sacramento fire engineer said in Facebook posts
25-year veteran’s August social media comments draw ire on eve of anti-Trump rally
A Sacramento fire engineer who suggested using “illegal immigrants” as “target practice” in Facebook posts from August took them down after being contacted by SN&R.
The posts, from a Facebook user named Don Martin, suggested violence against undocumented immigrants coming into America and compared post-election “riots in the streets” to Planet of the Apes. He also shared a post by the Prepare To Take America Back page that asked, “If war came to American soil, would you fight?”, to which Martin added, “I would argue that it already arrived!”
A Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District employee who answered the phone on Friday confirmed Martin’s employ. In an email exchange with SN&R, SMFD Capt. Michelle Eidam declined to say whether Martin works for the district, but called the Facebook comments unfortunate.
“The political views or personal statements made by our employees should not be construed to be those of Metro Fire,” she wrote. “Nonetheless, these comments are regrettable.”
While Eidam added that the district was investigating whether an employee posted the Facebook statements in question, she said she would be unable to reveal the outcome of that investigation due to employees’ privacy rights.
“Metro Fire does not condone statements which may be perceived as threatening or discriminatory towards members of the public we serve,” Eidam wrote.
The screen shots were originally brought to the attention of SN&R by a Facebook page advertising an anti-Trump rally last Friday. The rally drew hundreds from the state Capitol to the Tower Bridge to protest the nativist positions held by President-elect Donald Trump.
Since being contacted, Martin has deleted the Facebook post about using “illegal immigrants” as “target practice.” The Planet of the Apes post has also been deleted, though that may have happened before the account was contacted. The comment about a war on American soil remains up.
The current profile picture of the Facebook page shows a man clad in what appears to be a formal firefighter’s uniform. An earlier profile picture matches the current profile picture of a LinkedIn user also named Don Martin. This Don Martin lists that he is a realtor and has been a fire engineer with the SMFD for the last 25 years. The Facebook profile posted an ad for a realtor also named Don Martin that used the same LinkedIn profile picture.
When SN&R emailed the address listed for the realtor Don Martin, the person answering from the account said they were “not interested” in an interview and did not give permission to print the name they signed the emails with. The person did not confirm or deny that they operated the Facebook account or that they worked for the fire department.
“Your approach gives me pause given the blindness of your motives, subject, and my unfamiliarity with you,” the email read.
According to Transparent California, a Donald Martin Jr. made $235,856 in total pay and benefits as an SMFD fire engineer in 2015.
A recent audit showed that 72 percent of the city of Sacramento’s sworn firefighters are white. Similar figures weren’t immediately available for SMFD, which covers much of the unincorporated county through a union of 16 fire departments. The pictures of Don Martin are of a white man.
Martin also shared a post quoting an anti-violence message from Martin Luther King Jr.