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.

Charlotte in chaos after police shooting

Leondra Head | Local & World Editor

After nearly two weeks of protests in Charlotte, North Carolina, Governor Pat McCrory lifts the city-wide curfew as rallies against police killing of Keith Lamont Scott became peaceful.  

The Governor issued the curfew on Thursday, September 22 from midnight to 6 a.m. McCrory accepted a request from Charlotte’s police chief on Wednesday, declaring a state of emergency, calling in the National Guard to help restore order and to protect the downtown area.

Governor McCrory said the order was put into place “in order to more effectively protect the lives and property of the people within the City of Charlotte.”

Protests and riots broke out after 43-year-old, African American resident Keith Lamont Scott was shot and killed by Brently Vinson, a white Charlotte police officer. The protests resulted in the shutting down of Charlotte’s eight-lane Interstate 85.

Police released dash-cam footage just a week before a new North Carolina law would have been in effect. House bill-972 established that recordings made by law enforcement officials — including those from body and dashboard cameras — would no longer be a matter of public record. It was ratified on June 30 and signed by Governor McCrory on July 11. The bill that was signed into law in July would have made it much more difficult for the footage to become public.

Beginning October 1, footage captured by the police will be disclosed only to a person or representative of the person “whose image or voice” is included in the recording, according to the law. Anyone else interested in obtaining the recording will be required to make a formal, written request.

President Obama urged the use of police using body cameras, insinuating police departments can gain the trust of local communities. In December 2014, President Obama proposed an investment package to increase the use of the devices, requesting $75 million in federal funds that the White House said “could help purchase 50,000 body worn cameras” over three years.

Joile Jemmott, a sophomore, nursing major said, “Body cameras should be a tool to make law enforcement more transparent and accountable. Jemmott went on to say that it is a shame that North Carolina citizens have to suffer with this new law into effect.”

Scott’s death caused several days of protests that quickly turned into riots, with demonstrators and innocent bystanders. According to NBC News, protestors were seen looting businesses and smashing windows of buildings while chanting  “Black lives matter” and “Hands up; don’t shoot.”

According to the Charlotte Police Department, Scott disregarded repeated demands to drop his gun, while neighborhood residents say he was holding a book and not a weapon, as he waited for his son to get off the school bus.

Racial tensions in the United States have reached boiling point after protests in Charlotte against police killings of black men turned increasingly violent, forcing the North Carolina governor to initially declare a state of emergency.

Charlotte Mayor, Jennifer Roberts said in a press conference, “I ask that the community come together and show their unity in a peaceful and legal manner.”

Julie Thompson, a sophomore, nursing major from Charlotte said, “I know that from the video footage that without a doubt Terence Crutcher had his hands in the air. It is unbelievable that the police department are standing firm on their story. The senseless killings of African American males has to stop.”

Bentley Vinson, the officer seen shooting Scott has been placed on leave, standard procedure in such cases. Vinson is a two-year member of the Charlotte Police Department.

Delta Sigma Theta, Iota Phi Theta, and HU NAACP discuss #BlackLivesMatter

Marquise Brown | Staff Writer

Hampton, Virginia -Hampton University brought five scholars to discuss the black lives matter movement and its effects of African-American culture. The speakers of the night shared some common goals  that was to promote black lives matter, make young African American makes realize that their lives do matter and be positive.  

The panel allowed students from all majors to ask questions. The panelists discussed how blacks are stereotyped because of skin color and how the concept of ‘driving while black’ has gotten worse.

Hampton University police officer Michael Stewart stated “That we must reach back, and that African Americans are struggling because they don’t have the education to better themselves”. The panel explained how police brutality has transformed over the years. Stewart continued, “Anger has grown over time the right to discipline has gone. “Police officers have to get more training on social skills instead of drawing their weapon”.