The important message behind Colin Kaepernick’s refusal to stand for the National Anthem has influenced a U.S. Navy sailor to do just the same — sit it out.
Petty Officer 2nd Class Janaye Ervin is now under investigation by the U.S. Navy after she refused to stand and salute the flag as the “Star-Spangled Banner” played during an early morning flag-raising at Pearl Harbor Monday, according to an official. U.S. Pacific Fleet spokesman and Senior Chief Petty Officer Joel Cesar said it’s now up to Ervin’s commander to decide whether she’ll face disciplinary action for the Sept. 19 incident.
According to Military.com, the embroiled sailor explained her actions in a now-deleted post to her Facebook page.
“I have been proudly serving in the U.S. Navy Reserve Force since November 2008,” Ervin wrote. “I have pledged to support and defend the Constitution of the United States and to spread freedom and democracy around the world. I will never waver from that pledge.”
But then she continued: “I feel like a hypocrite singing about the ‘land of the free’ when I know that only applies to some Americans. I will gladly stand again, when ALL AMERICANS are afforded the same freedom.”
Ervin’s decision to remain seated during the anthem is reminiscent of Kaepernicks’s protest, in which the San Francisco 49ers quarterback kneels as a way to speak out against racial injustice in America.
Similar demonstrations by fellow NFL players and other athletes have taken place across the nation, sparking controversy as well as overwhelming amounts of support. The major difference here is that Ervin could face criminal charges for her actions. The sailor said the Navy threatened her with jail time and his since revoked her security clearance.
“The Navy has decided to punish me for defending the Constitution and has taken away my equipment I need to do my Naval job,” she wrote on Facebook. “It was my pleasure serving my country, I love it dearly, that is why I must do this for you. I will keep you all posted on what happens next!”
Military.com reports that Ervin is the second sailor in two weeks to be investigated for failing to stand during the anthem. A sailor affiliated with the Naval Air Technical Training Center in Pensacola, Florida reportedly filmed herself refusing to stand for morning ceremony known as “Colors,” during which the national anthem is played. Officials from the Naval Education and Training Command told the news site that the sailor, who remains unnamed, was subject to disciplinary action but allowed to stay at her command.
Both sailors face the possibility of prosecution for exercising their First Amendment right. However, under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, Navy rules explicitly state that troops must stand and face the flag when the national anthem is played/sung. Those in uniform are required to salute the flag, while service members in civilian clothing must face the flag with their right hand over their hearts.
Military.com reported that the U.S. Navy issued a public guidance warning sailors not to protest the national anthem earlier this week.
“While military personnel are not excluded from the protections granted by the First Amendment, the US Supreme Court has stated that the different character of our community and of the military mission requires a different application of those protections,” the guidance read. “Additionally, sailors receive training on the appropriate usage of social media, and must not use it to discredit the Naval Service, and should be reminded it could potentially be used as evidence against them.”
A Change.org petition has since been launched in support of Ervin.