A firefighter and apparent Donald Trump supporter in Earle, Arkansas, is out of a job today — at least for the time being — after an inflammatory Facebook post calling for National Football League players who kneel during the national anthem to be “shot in the head,” according to a report by WMC TV News in Tennessee.
But even after an Earle fire official posted his own message on his department’s Facebook page, questions remained over whether the firefighter was really being fired, and the extent of his discipline.
The name of the firefighter who posted the offending message was not released to the public, though images of the post inserted into the comments section of the Earle Fire Department Facebook gave the name of the poster as Jonathan Marotti. Whether it was actually a person by that name who wrote the post has not been confirmed.
The post was sparked by the ongoing #TakeTheKnee protests in the NFL, which sees many predominately African-American players kneeling on one knee during the pre-game ceremonial playing of “The Star Spangled Banner,” as a form of protest against racial injustice and police violence aimed at black citizens. The protests have outraged many fans and Trump supporters.
The protests came to a head this past weekend after Trump at an Alabama rally on Sunday referred to any player who kneels during the anthem as a “son of a b****,” and later continued his attacks on his Twitter account.
In the firefighter’s Facebook post, the person posting under the name Marotti not only called for NFL players who kneel during the anthem to be shot, but that Trump himself should commission snipers to carry out the assassinations, according to a report in the Memphis Commercial-Appeal newspaper.
“U want my honest opinion about these worthless piece of crap professional football basketball and baseball wannabe players i think trump should post snipers at every game and each player that takes a knee or sits in the lockeroom should b shot in the head i have no sympathy for them and no respect and as for the rest of u obama lovin snowflakes out here protesting and makin idiots out of urselves u should b shot on sight to if u disagree with me then dont let the door hit ya where the good lord split ya,” the post said.
On Monday night, Earle Assistant Fire Chief John Buford responded on Facebook, saying that the department had “relieved that firefighter of duties indefinitely.”
But was the Facebook poster actually fired? One skeptical commenter on Buford’s post wondered if the post represented a cover-up of sorts.
“‘Relieved that firefighter of duties indefinitely’ doesn’t equate to ‘fired’ or ‘suspended without pay.'” the commenter wrote. “It equates to ‘out of the way until this blows over!’ Especially since the firefighter hasn’t been identified and the official statement confirming the named person as having employment terminated with the fire dept. So it can be confirmed through public records.”
Though the post called for shooting and killing protesters, whether the poster named as Marotti will be investigated by law enforcement authorities has not yet been made clear.
The state of Arkansas voted overwhelmingly for Trump in the 2016 presidential election, giving him 60.4 percent of the vote compared to just 33.8 percent for Democrat Hillary Clinton. But Crittenden County, where Earle — a town of about 2,300 — is located, was one of just eight Arkansas counties (out of 75 in the state) that voted for Clinton, giving her 52.6 percent of Crittenden votes, to 43.7 for Trump.
[Featured Image by Jeffrey T. Barnes/AP Images]