Summary of eRumor:
A column titled “Goodbye Petty Officer 2nd Class Janaye Ervin” claims that Ervin was stripped of her security clearance and assigned menial labor after refusing to salute during the national anthem in Pearl Harbor.
Based on public comments from Janaye Ervin and her Navy superiors, claims that Ervin was stripped of security clearance, assigned menial labor and discharged from the Navy after refusing to salute the flag during “morning colors” at Pearl Harbor in September 2016 are true.
An Intelligence Specialist 2nd Class Janaye Ervin, was a reservist on active duty with the U.S. Pacific Fleet when she refused to salute the flag during the Star Spangled banner on September 19, 2016, at Pearl Harbor. News of her protest came to light after Ervin posted a public account of it on Facebook that has since been deleted:
“I have been proudly serving in the US Navy Reserve Force since November 2008. 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. 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.”
At the time, former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick had sparked nationwide debate after refusing to stand for the National Anthem before NFL games in September 2016, citing racial inequality. Questions about whether the Navy would punish Janaye Ervin for her protest surfaced almost immediately. The book of U.S. Navy Regulations lists specific protocols for Navy personnel during the national anthem:
Whenever the National Anthem is played, all naval services personnel not in formation shall stand at attention and face the national ensign. In the event that the national is not displayed, they shall face the source of the music. When covered, they shall come tot he salute at the first note of the anthem, and shall remain at the salute until the last note of the anthem….
Initially, U.S. Pacific Fleet spokesman Lt. Clint Ramsden told the Washington Post that any punishment for Ervin would be up to her commander, and he refused to comment on possible punishment scenarios:
Ramsden would not comment on what kind of disciplinary action Ervin could face, if any.
“It’s currently under review, and once that review is complete, then we’ll have a clear picture of what occurred and if any punitive action will occur,” he said.
In September 2016, Janaye Ervin told IBT she’d been stripped of her security clearance and of equipment she needed to perform her job had been taken away. She also said she’d been threatened with jail time. Then, in December 2016, a Navy spokesperson told IBT that Janaye Ervin had been honorably discharged, stating: “Petty Officer Janaye Ervin has fulfilled her obligation of enlistment and was honorably discharged from the United States Navy.” Ervin confirmed her discharge in a Facebook post, stating, “Yes, my 8 year mark came up,” when asked if she was out of the Navy.
In the December report, Ervin also went into greater detail about the immediate fallout from her protest. After Ervin lost her security clearance, she was sent to a parking lot wash cars and pull weeds. She also lost her job with a civilian defense contractor because she needed security clearance to perform her duties:
The questioners coaxed out of her that she was an SSO, a Special Security Officer. That allowed Navy brass to figure out that she needed a security clearance for her civilian job, Ervin told IBT. It was the only thing she told them, she says.
The following day, an officer told Ervin her security clearance was being taken away and that she needed to hand over her access badges. She was escorted out of the SCIF.
Ervin says 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.
“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.
So, given all that, claims made about Janaye Ervin’s punishment for refusing to salute the flag in the “Goodbye Janaye Ervin” commentary are true. She was stripped of her security clearance, she was honorably discharged from the Navy (after completing an eight year term) and she was assigned to do menial labor after losing access to a secure portion of the military base.
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