Times-Union readers want to know:
Did the U.S. Navy kick out an African-American sailor who did not salute as the national anthem played during a flag-raising ceremony at Pearl Harbor?
On Sept. 19, Petty Officer 2nd Class Janaye Ervin reportedly refused to salute during “morning colors,” a daily 8 a.m. raising of the flag, a Navy spokesman told The Washington Post.
The Navy protocol handbook states that a sailor in uniform must salute during the entire time the national anthem is played.
Ervin wrote on Facebook that her personal protest was rooted in ideological reasons, according to Military.com.
She gave an interview to International Business Times in which she said she was checking the latest news before starting work for government contractor Leidos at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickham in Hawaii and saw a report on the death of a black man who was shot and killed by a local police officer on a road in Tulsa, Okla.
“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.”
Her protest followed that of quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who repeatedly knelt during the national anthem to call attention to what he saw as discrimination against people of color.
Other athletes followed suit.
Ervin was called in for a meeting the next morning with superior officers and read her rights, The Washington Post reported. She said the only thing she told the officers was that she was a special security officer.
The next day, Ervin was told that her security clearance was being taken away, the Post said. She said she was sent to the Executive Transportation Office — a VIP parking center for the base — and told to wash and wax cars, pull weeds, clean the locker room and perform other menial tasks.
Ervin left the base as scheduled on Friday, Sept. 23; at home, she found an email from her supervisor at Leidos, telling her not to show up for work on Monday.
She said that she was fired from her job at Leidos, a government contractor, after someone from the Navy called her employer to say her clearance was suspended. Ervin told International Business Times on Dec. 22 that the company’s human resources department told her there was no work for her without a security clearance.
Leidos paid Ervin through her original end-of-service date. The Navy is not pursuing charges.
“Petty Officer Janaye Ervin has fulfilled her obligation of enlistment and was honorably discharged from the United States Navy,” a Navy Reserve Forces spokesperson said in response to an IBT request for comment.
We couldn’t find an update on whether Ervin has found new employment.
Carole Fader: (904) 359-4635