The US Navy has warned its troops that they could be punished for their refusal to stand when the national anthem is played to protest police shooting of African Americans in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement.
The development came after two African American sailors separately went public with their protest gestures against the US flag as a symbol of persisting oppression against the country’s black population through their social networking pages in the past month, Military.com reported Friday.
According to the report, a message directed at active-duty sailors and reserve personnel on active duty cites Navy Regulation 1205, “which mandates that personnel in uniform must stand at attention and face the flag when the national anthem is played.”
It also notes that a Navy administrative message published in 2009 “requires Navy active-duty personnel in civilian clothes to face the flag, stand at attention, and place their right hand over their heart.”
"Additionally, Sailors receive training on the appropriate usage of social media, and must not use it to discredit the Naval Service, and should be reminded it could potentially be used as evidence against them," the warning guideline further stated, in an apparent message intended for the two sailors who published posts on Facebook about their protests.
Failure to comply with these regulations, it added, is punishable under Article 92 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, and constitutes commission of a serious offense -- grounds for administrative separation from the service.
However, the actions taken against the two sailors that publicized their protest efforts have not been disclosed.
The development came as more professional athletes around the US follow San Francisco 49ers football player Colin Kaepernick's lead and take a knee during the playing of the national anthem to protest rising police shootings of African Americans in solidarity of the Black Lives Matter movement.
In late August, the report said, a female Navy sailor attached to the Naval Air Technical Training Center at Pensacola, Florida, posted a video of herself on Facebook as she remained seated during the base's morning "colors" ceremony, which swiftly received viral attention on the social media platform.
Additionally on September 21, Petty Officer 2nd Class Janaye Ervin, an intelligence specialist based in Hawaii, disclosed in a public Facebook post that she was being punished by the Navy for remaining seated for the anthem two days earlier.