Sitting for Justice

Spencer Mckan Heath III | Contributing Writer

A U.S. Navy sailor has lost military clearance and is now facing charges in the Military Justice System after she released a video of herself sitting in protest during the national anthem at a Florida military base. The sailor under investigation is 2nd class officer Janaye Ervin, an intelligence specialist in the Navy Reserve. Although she was not in uniform, she is still in violation of her contract as a naval sailor which states that all service members whether in uniform or not must stand and face the flag when the national anthem is played.

Troops who do not stand for the national anthem face prosecution under the Uniform Code of Military Justice for violating Article 92, which states that troops can be punished for failing to obey lawful general order. Erwin explained her actions in a Facebook post saying, “I feel like a hypocrite singing about the ‘land of the free’ when I know that only applies to some Americans.” She went on to say, “I will gladly stand again when ALL AMERICANS are afforded the same freedom.”

Erwin was training at the Naval Air Station in Pensacola, Florida when she refused to stand for the national anthem. Lt. Cdr Katherine Meadows, a U.S. Navy spokeswoman said, “We routinely give training to sailors on appropriate usage of social media and that they must abide by the Uniform Code of Justice at all times.” The post first went viral on “US Army Military Police WTF Moments” Facebook page and later reported by the Navy Times.

Erwin claims to have been supporting the San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who recently sparked an uproar by kneeling in protest during the national anthem. Kaepernick kneeled in protest of police brutality and racism in the U.S.

The national protest rose to spotlight after the events of rioting took place in Charlotte, North Carolina after Keith Lamont Scott was shot and killed by a White police officer. The problem which many are calling a crime against justice is whether Military Contract supersedes constitutional rights. “Nobody is forcing you to be in the military and you join with the understanding that there is just certain things you can not do,” said Lamarr Dodson a sophomore biology major from Newport News,VA. He went on to say, “This case is way different than Colin Kaepernick’s. He is a professional athlete and you are a military official.”

There has been a dramatic increase within the last 6 months of many refusing to participate in the standing for the national anthem. It’s becoming an issue which military and government officials are saying needs to be addressed before things get “out of hand.” Some people agree with the actions of the Navy sailor, an example being Hampton University student Lexie Carmon. Lexie Carmon, a junior journalism major from Houston said, “I agree with the Navy sailor for standing up for police brutality.” Carmon thinks it’s a great stance that people in power take the necessary steps to stand up for equal rights. Rights at which some are questioning is ours in the first place.


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