As we reported yesterday, CEO Franklin Sain was arrested over threatening e-mails to state rep and gun-control advocate Rhonda Fields; see examples below. (Warning: They're explicit.) The firm for which Sain works has now suspended him, but that's not enough for the region's NAACP affiliate. The organization is calling for his firing amid concerns that his behavior isn't an exception but an example of a new and loathsome trend.
Back in 2005, as we've reported, Fields's son, Javad Marshall-Fields, agreed to serve as a material witness against Robert Ray, who he'd seen murder a friend. But before he could testify, Marshall-Fields and his fiancee, Vivian Wolfe, were killed.
Ray is currently on death row for ordering the slaying of a witness in connection with another murder, this one in 2004 -- and Sir Mario Owens, convicted of spraying the car in which Marshall-Fields and Wolfe died with a dozen bullets, is also slated to die. However, appeals will keep those sentences from being carried out for years.
This tragedy is among the factors that inspired Fields to run for state representative, and this year, she's been one of the leading forces at the legislature behind gun-control measures. Then, earlier this month, she received multiple e-mails traced to Colorado Springs-based Sain, the chief operating officer for SofTec Solutions, based in Englewood. According to its website, the company is a frequent government contractor that's "staffed 298 recruiters nationwide for the U.S. Army," among other federal gigs. Here's a typical -- and uncensored -- example....
I ordered a ton of new 30 round magazines today CUNTBAG.... go fuck yourself and your new law.... we wont [sic] abide by it.... CUNT NIGGER....
...and here's another, featuring references to former Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who was severely wounded in an attack that killed several people, and another Colorado lawmaker, Beth McCann:
Watching you live, you are a pathetic NIGGER CUNT along with MCANN [sic], two cunts who are way overdue a good fucking...and hopefully somebody Gifords [sic] both of your asses with a gun....you are both pieces of monkey shit who have no right or reason to be in the position you are....fuck off cunts....
Sain was subsequently arrested on suspicion of harassment and attempting to influence a public servant. Shortly thereafter, SofTec, presumably interested in protecting its government contracts, issued the following statement:
SofTec Solutions, Inc. has been informed of allegations against our employee, Mr. Frank Sain. We are shocked to learn of these allegations and are taking this matter very seriously. If true, these actions are highly inappropriate and will not be tolerated. Pending SofTec's investigation into this matter, Mr. Sain has been suspended immediately from further duties at SofTec. SofTec Solutions is a minority-owned, small business and we employ a large diverse workforce. We will absolutely not tolerate any racial, sexual, gender-based slurs or threats of violence by employees.
In a statement on view below in its entirety, Rosemary Harris Lytle, president of the NAACP Colorado Montana Wyoming State Conference, refers to this move on the part of SofTec "a good first step" before calling for Sain's immediate termination. But in conversation, Harris Lytle makes it clear she doesn't see his alleged actions as an isolated incident. Far from it: She cites two other recent attacks on officials of color and theorizes that the diversity of the current Colorado legislature may be partly responsible for a vile escalation in hatred. Continue for more about the call for Franklin Sain's firing, including the NAACP statement and his arrest report.
In addition to the slurs aimed at Fields, Harris Lytle mentions the reaction to Representative Joe Salazar's comments about guns on college campuses, which critics saw as suggesting that young women are so jittery that they might shoot innocent people by accident; Salazar immediately apologized for the remarks and refuted this interpretation.
She also mentions a statement made to 7News by Senator Jessie Ulibarri in the context of the station's reporting about Fields and Sain.
"Over the course of this last week, I've received death threats. I've received rape threats against my two-and-a-half-year-old daughter and other members of my family, because I'm standing up against gun violence," Ulibarri said.
In Harris Lytle's words, "we're critically concerned about the targeting of these threats to legislators, which have become racialized, sexualized and genderized, depending on who it is. The Colorado legislature has a new contingent of black and brown and openly gay leadership. It's a historically progressive state legislature, and we fear that unless there is some real community concern and some real community dialogue, they're not going to be able to do their job effectively.
"We think what happened to Representative Fields should be investigated and prosecuted as a hate crime, because of the language and the threats based on race and gender -- and the same kind of threats were directed at Representative Ulibarri's daughter."
Harris Lytle is disturbed by "how quickly we've come to this sad state of affairs. We're only two months into the state legislature, and we've got this new, historic team of black, brown, female, openly gay, progressive legislators. We've got to ask ourselves: Will we insure the safety and decorum of these people we've elected to do this job?"
SofTec Solutions, the Englewood company which employs Franklin Sain, took an important first step today when it suspended Sain from his position as the company's Chief Operating Officer. But the NAACP Colorado Montana Wyoming State Conference believes SofTec's actions are insufficient.
We call on SofTec's management to terminate Franklin Sain immediately.
On today, the first anniversary of the tragic killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, we are reminded that racialized and sexualized attacks have been rained on men and women of color throughout history. The world lost Emmett Till to such an attack -- and decades later, young Trayvon who was killed theoretically because young men of color with their hoodies and Skittles are a menace to society in the eyes of some.
Franklin Sain's vile litany of threats and promises of violence in response to Rep. Rhonda Fields' introduction of gun control legislation, offers little difference. The District Attorney should file the strongest charges possible and Sain, who was released on an offensively low bond, must feel the full weight of his actions. Allowing him to sit at home on what could conceivably amount to a paid vacation would only add insult to the injury already experienced by Representative Fields -- and send the wrong message to others.
SofTec must end Sain's suspension.
For the sake of justice, it must completely relieve him of his duties now.
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More from our News archive: "Franklin Sain to gun-control backers: 'Hopefully somebody Giffords both of your asses.'"