SAILOR CAN KEEP HIS CBF TATTOO, THANKS TO SLRC ADVICE
A sailor who had been told to remove a Confederate flag tattoo or resign
from the U.S. Navy won’t have to make that choice due to information and advice
he received from the SLRC.
Machinists Mate First Class Walter Blackburn, who is stationed at Newport
News, Virginia, contacted the SLRC in early August seeking advice as to how
to save his eight-year Navy career without abandoning his Confederate
heritage. Blackburn said he has a tattoo on one arm showing crossed Confederate
Irish flags and was told by his superior that he would have to have the
Battle Flag portion of the tattoo eradicated or no longer remain in the Navy.
He applied for a waiver that would have allowed him to keep the tattoo, but
the waiver was denied.
The SLRC advised Blackburn to request a naval mast hearing so that he could
present the cultural and First Amendment issues raised by his case and
Blackburn decided to do so, even if it meant jeopardizing his naval career.
However, when he returned from two weeks leave on Monday, he was informed that
case had been reconsidered and he could keep his tattoo. In an e-mail to the
SLRC, he said: "Thank you so much for your support and assistance. I just
returned from leave and was informed that my case was reconsidered and I am no
longer required to remove the flag. Score one for the little guy. Thank
you again for everything."
We love happy endings, said SLRC Chief Trial Counsel Kirk D. Lyons.
"Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you
please." Mark Twain