Sailor who refused to stand for National Anthem only received “slap on the wrist”

A former Navy intelligence specialist who was stripped of her security clearance after refusing to stand for the national anthem during “morning colors” was reportedly assigned to wash and wax cars after being rendered unable to do her job.

Recently discharged sailor Janaye Ervin made headlines earlier this year after refusing to stand for the morning colors while on reserve duty at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Hawaii. Sharing her protest on social media, Ervin claims she was trying to make a statement about the persecution of blacks in America, citing the police shooting of 40-year-old Terence Crutcher.

“That was the last story I saw before the song started playing, and I was really sad and I just didn’t want to stand at that moment,” Ervin said. She thought, “I can’t stand for this song knowing that the song isn’t for me, being black. The song doesn’t represent me at all.”

Ervin said that she didn’t ever think the national anthem -or the US flag- was all that important, anyway.

“To be honest, I never really thought about the flag my entire life,” she told International Business Times. “I had no reason to: It’s just a flag,” she said, “and the national anthem- I don’t think I’ll be saluting it or standing for it ever again.”

During her protest, a civilian spotted her and asked why she didn’t stand for the colors. When she told him she didn’t want to, he presumably informed her chain of command- she was approached by a superior in regard to the incident.

Ervin claims that the superior told her “You do not get to make that choice. You don’t have rights anymore. You signed away your rights.”

The next day, Ervin was stood up in front of her supervisors and read her rights before being given a warning about potentially compromising her security clearance- one that she needed for both her civilian and military jobs. Within 24 hours, she was stripped of her clearance and escorted out of her secure workplace.

The navy veteran-activist then claims she was given menial tasks to perform, such as washing and waxing cars, pulling weeds and other tasks generally reserved for unrated sailors.

“They’re pretty much making me do manual labor as punishment, even though they don’t even know what happened because I haven’t said anything yet, but I guess they’re just going off what that civilian told them,” Ervin said.

Ervin claims no one told her that she was specifically in trouble for not standing for the colors, despite the fact that it falls under the 10th general order for sentries, which is taught in Navy Boot Camp.

“So, well, I’m getting punished without even going to trial or anything, or going through any due process,” Ervin said. “Okay, I guess we just go straight to punishment. But it’s not that bad- it’s just extra duty, it’s like visiting your grandma. You visit grandma and you have to pull some weeds and clean things.”

However, when she began getting attention from New York Daily News writer/activist Shaun King and NFL pariah Colin Kaepernick, things started to go downhill.

Leaving the base as scheduled, she returned home to find out that her civilian employer -the Leidos Company- no longer required her services since her security clearance was (apparently) revoked. The US Navy would later inform her that her clearance was suspended instead of outright stripped.

Leidos would continue to pay Ervin through her original contract dates and she is currently collecting unemployment.

While the US Navy is not pursuing charges, they did not have much to say on the matter: a Navy Reserve Forces spokesperson told IBT only that “Petty Officer Janaye Ervin has fulfilled her obligation of enlistment and was honorably discharged from the United States Navy,”

Still, Ervin feels she did the right thing and says she’s still proud of her service.

“I was always a patriot, That’s why I feel so strongly about including all Americans in the national anthem, and not treating certain Americans differently,” Ervin said. “The Constitution is supposed to be applied to all Americans, not just some of us. So I’m very much a patriot, otherwise I wouldn’t have cared. I just would’ve gotten a paycheck, and gone home, and not said anything.”

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  • Andy Wolf

    Andy Wolf is an Appalachian native who spent much of his youth and young adulthood overseas in search of combat, riches, and adventure- accruing decades of experience in military, corporate, first responder, journalistic and advisory roles. He resides in North Carolina's Blue Ridge Mountains with his K9 companion, Kiki.

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