This article was first published in the Summer 2023 issue of On Watch.

By Jonathan W. Hutto, Sr.

In the aftermath of the failed coup by Trump supporters to halt the National Electoral process in early January 2021, many concerned Americans and laypersons throughout the world were first exposed to the entrenched racist and fascist elements within the United States Military. For me, it served as a very grim reminder of my experiences as an enlisted sailor aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) where my dignity, self-respect and ultimately my very life was at stake. It took every inch of organizing skill I had learned as a young activist coupled with raw courage to survive an oppressive environment intent on choking out every ounce of humanity from my unconquerable soul.

In the Spring of 2008, my book Anti-War Soldier, was published through Nation Books. It was the direct result of having successfully organized against racism and for peace from within the ranks of the United States Military as an enlisted sailor from late July 2004-to early Sept 2008. It was in Anti-War Soldier I gave readers a glimpse into those foundational experiences that made it absolutely impossible for me to internalize oppression — a necessity for ascending the military ranks. Born into Atlanta Georgia’s black middle class in the late 1970’s post the Civil Rights Movement, luminaries such as the late Julian Bond, John Lewis, Hank Aaron and Hosea Williams had a profound eternal impact upon my young life. As a survivor of divorce and childhood trauma, my loyalty and commitment to those on the margins of society was cemented during those middle school and teenage years where our family (mother, late brother and myself) moved on average once a year until I entered Howard University as a Freshman in the fall of 1995. It was at Howard, under the tutelage of the late SNCC Veteran Lawrence Guyot, I found and embraced my calling as a Human Rights struggler.

I enlisted within the United States Navy January 2004 a year after having survived racism and xenophobia as a young staffer for Amnesty International USA (AIUSA). I arrived on-board the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (TR) on July 26th 2004 after having completed both a nine-week boot camp in Great Lakes Illinois and 13-weeks of Apprentice School at Fort Meade Maryland to learn my job of Naval Photography. At the time, the carrier was undergoing a required 11-month shipyard rehabilitation in Portsmouth, Virginia in preparation for a six month deployment at sea scheduled for the fall of 2005. Given my experience at Fort Meade which I documented in Anti-War Soldier, I joined the ship with a distrusting disposition towards the chain of command and the Navy in general. My first day at the ship’s photo-lab foreshadowed the struggles that lay ahead.

The problem began with a white sailor named Seaman Michael Cole, from upstate New York. Upon observing me for roughly ten minutes without me having said a word, he bluntly stated, “You’re one of those real black people, huh.” Though initially shocked, I eventually came to understand what he meant. Cole was an overt racist who openly referred to Dr. Martin Luther King as a “Coon,” whilst praising Adolf Hitler and performing Nazi salutes. What was most disheartening wasn’t the attitude of Cole and his supporting cast of fellow racist white shipmate friends, but the internalized oppression displayed by black sailors — a couple of whom would either ignore Cole or uncomfortably laugh along with him. I, on the other hand, let Cole know from day-one that his racist disposition and attitude wouldn’t stand with me. From that day on, in the eyes of Cole & Company, including their senior defenders, I became Public Enemy Number One.

Cole and his posse were protected by the most reactionary fascist-minded individual I have ever interfaced with in my life: Petty Officer First Class (E6) James Foehl. He talked down to everyone, barked and shouted orders, mistreated workers and ran the shop with an iron fist — a real tyrant. On only my third day in the photo-lab, he remarked that my photography was the worst he had ever seen in his life. By December of that year during a counseling session, on my fifth request for paper during the meeting to write my response, which is a sailor’s right to do, Foehl slammed a piece of white typing paper on the table in front of me in a very threatening manner.

I would eventually take this oppressive E6 to the Equal Opportunity Office in December of 2004. EO Advisors within the Naval Chain of Command is one of the lasting reforms of the late Chief of Naval of Operations (CNO) Admiral Elmo Zumwalt, implemented in the early 1970’s in response to the racial strife within the service during his tenure. The ship was in the holiday stand down period which means half the boat is on rotational leave. Everyone on the ship is assigned to a duty section. The duty section runs the boat when everyone else is on leave or liberty. During this time, our chain of command was allowing the off-going duty section — those folks coming off a duty day — to leave early the following day. Well, when my time came to leave early, my LPO attempted to leave me at work and allow the other members of my duty section to go home early. I was allowed to leave an hour after my shipmates from my duty section were allowed to go. I raised the issue with my Chain of Command and was told to write down what had taken place. Once I presented to my chain what took place in writing, that I was unfairly targeted by this LPO, they rejected my analysis and told me I misinterpreted what had happened. I took the issue to the Equal Opportunity Advisor on the ship, an E8 which is a career enlisted person. He told me to send him a letter and he would call a meeting together of all parties involved and resolve the issue.

At this point, the Department Leading Petty Officer, an E9 (Master-Chief) got involved and wanted to resolve the issue. I remember a few things about this meeting. First, it was very intense. As we started the meeting and I was talking, I remember him telling me I was to address him as Master-Chief before I began every sentence. When I finished telling him my position he told me that much of the problem dealt with me and not the LPO, that I was new to the Navy and I needed to learn the Navy culture and ways of doing things before reporting an LPO to EO.

After the meeting with the E9, I continued to push the issue until it was finally resolved. The resolution was Foehl admitting he had been wrong to me in this situation and that he would treat me and others fairly. I did not know from that point on, I was to be heavily monitored. What I did was considered outside of the Navy culture and standards. Foehl’s attitude rapidly turned towards driving me out of the Navy. The retaliation for taking the chain of command to EO was being punished severely for missing a duty day due to inclement weather.

In early January 2005, I traveled to DC for the weekend to attend my son’s birthday party. While there, a snowstorm hit, preventing me from returning to the ship by the 0700 curfew on Monday morning. A sailor is usually protected in such a situation, so long as he or she promptly alerts the chain of command to describe the mitigating circumstances. However, this courtesy was not extended to me. Upon my return, I was hurriedly brought into a hostility-filled meeting with Foehl and both the divisional chief and senior chief petty officer. I instinctively knew something bad was about to happen, so I requested the presence of Chris Mason — a fellow black seaman — to serve as my witness. Senior Chief Kevin Mills denied my request, stating that Foehl and Chief Ernest Frazier would serve as my witnesses. I stood firm against Mills’ declaration, stating their loyalty was to the upper chain of command and not the “deck-plate” (junior enlisted) sailors. As soon as I stated this, I was dismissed from the meeting and officially written up by Mills on a “Report of Offense,” which was forwarded to the Legal Department for further corrective action.

A week later I was brought before the draconian Disciplinary Review Board (DRB). It was here I would come to know the real Navy, live and uncensored. Forced to do multiple parade-ground marching-style “facing movements” before a board composed of high-ranking chief petty officers, I was then screamed at repeatedly. One grisly-looking white male master chief even began banging on the table and threatening to “kick my ass.” A black female chief asked if I had ever heard of “Hallmark” because next time I better send a card and forget about my son’s party. This was a multi-racial board led by a white female command master chief named Beth Lambert. She was the senior enlisted sailor on the ship, ranking just below the carrier’s Executive officer and Commanding officer (CO). She recommended that since I’d not been contrite before this inquisition, I should go before an Executive Officer (XO) Inquiry, the final step before Captain’s Mast — convened by the ship’s CO.

At this point, I’d had enough of the Navy. The institutional harassment which followed more than solidified that verdict. After the DRB, I was sent to stand at the rigid position of attention in the photolab awaiting my Seabag Inspection (ensuring I had all required uniforms and clothing). I remember the black Chief Petty Officer Ernest Frazier attempting to counsel me saying, “Hutto, try not to talk with your hands when asked questions.” I had never been so humiliated at any point in my life. Upon Frazier walking away, after having stood at attention for 30 plus minutes, I looked around the corner and seeing no one there made a swift dash for the berthing space where sailors sleep. I grabbed whatever few articles I could within a five-minute time-frame and then quickly made my way to the quarterdeck (where sailors check in and off the ship) where I was saluted off and immediately jumped in a cab heading to Enterprise Rent-A-Car. I didn’t know exactly where I was going, but I knew I would not be returning to the United States Navy. At that moment I was going AWOL.I made several calls as I drove towards Washington D.C., one of which was to Dr. Rodney Green, an economics professor at Howard University.  Drafted into the Army upon graduating from Yale in 1969, Rod had been foundational to my political development. I’d participated in my first agitational demonstration alongside him and the International Committee Against Racism during my freshman year in Spring 1996, held outside the residence of House Speaker Newt Gingrich. Now Rod invited me over to his home the next morning for a chat and chew. I was unprepared for the advice imparted upon me. Rod believed my going AWOL was both ill-advised and harmful to my future. From his experience organizing against the Vietnam War from inside the Army, Rod believed my actions went against the principle of building working class solidarity and cohesion amongst the enlisted “grunts.” Rod’s most striking assertion was that a number of my fellow sailors probably felt much as I did but expressed their unhappiness differently. He challenged me not only to report back aboard ship and accept whatever punishment I had coming, but to slowly yet gradually pace myself–thereby building the deeper relationships and support needed to challenge the chain of command more collectively in the future.

I returned to the ship after 42 hours of Unauthorized Absence. Upon entering the quarterdeck I was escorted to security to give a urine sample for a drug-test. There I was advised to provide a written statement and waive my right to an attorney — I declined to do either. The Admin Departmental Officer Lieutenant Commander Roddy was unfavorable and biased towards me throughout this process due to my activist history. I had a chance to read my file before it went to the Executive Officer. Roddy wrote that I was intimidating people based on my history of having worked for the ACLU, a history I am quite proud of. Reading Roddy’s comments I thought to myself, “Is this the same Departmental Officer who took immense pride in telling me in our initial welcome aboard meeting that he was from Forsyth County, Georgia?” As documented by Patrick Phillips in his book “Blood At the Root: A Racial Cleansing in America.” Forsyth is a county that excommunicated Blacks at gunpoint in 1912, stealing their land and thereby becoming a Sundown – no Blacks allowed after dark — Whites Only County for many decades, right up to my teenage years in fact. It was a 1987 Civil Rights March, the largest in Georgia’s history, led by the late Rev. Hosea Williams, one of Dr. King’s lieutenants in the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) that finally began to re-open the County to Blacks.

Two weeks after my encounter with Roddy, I stood at the XO’s (the ship’s second-in-command) Inquiry as both CMC Lambert and the XO himself, Captain David Pine, admonished me for behavior unbecoming a sailor. Outwardly my emotions expressed remorse, but in reality this masked a deep burning desire for restorative justice. Pine, believing I was “trainable,” decided against escalating my discipline to a Captain’s Mast and instead assigned me extra military instruction (EMI) to be overseen by the despotic Foehl. This EMI would last nearly a month, and involved my staying after work for hours each evening, shining brass, stripping and waxing the photo-lab deck, scrubbing ladder wells, cleaning deck drains, or whatever other needed physical task was assigned to me in the shop. It was very humbling work yet the entire time I heeded my mentor Rod’s advice and kept my eye on the ball.

On September 1st 2005 our ship departed for a six-month deployment at sea, just two days after Hurricane Katrina had slammed into the Gulf Coast. I remember a number of sailors from the region desperately trying to figure out the whereabouts of loved ones, but being unsuccessful due to at-sea obligations. Simply put, once forward-deployed, the Navy’s mission is always: MISSION FIRST–over everything, including one’s immediate family.
During the deployment I worked as a photojournalist in the Public Affairs Office (PAO), writing stories for the ship’s internal newspaper. The assignment kept me constantly on the move, learning new aspects of the ship– including the system of transporting bombs from the lower decks to the flight deck, plus the intricate system of ensuring the carrier’s jets receive clean fuel. We averaged 25 days consistently out to sea before docking in a port and enjoying liberty (time off the ship within a host city). While in port, I volunteered my photo services for Community Relations (Comrel) Projects between the ship and various organizations within the foreign host cities. The most memorable Comrel involved volunteering at a home for abandoned African immigrant youth in Naples, Italy, a project I wrote a story on for the ship’s paper. I still remember the ship’s chaplain advising me not to focus on the root causes of the youth abandonment I’d just witnessed, but rather to solely report on what the U.S. Navy was doing to help them. My personal favorite port visit was Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. We docked four times in Dubai spending Christmas Day there.

January 10, 2006 — some four months into the deployment — is a day that will always live in infamy for me. That night, I visited the photo-lab to inquire about the joint Syracuse University-Military PhotoJournalism program. In the midst of a conversation with the lead petty officer (PO) Mathew Bash–in the company of two other white male PO’s — one, Eben Boothby, reached on top of the vent duct and pulled down a hangman’s noose. I vividly recall all three of them having smirks on their faces with Boothby holding his crotch. I was beyond shocked both by Boothby’s actions and the non-response of both Petty Officers Bash and Randall Damm. When I told Boothby to remove the noose, he remarked that a black Quarter-Master colleague of mine could use a lynching as well.

I stormed out of the photo-lab in utter disgust. Two hours later I sent an email to Bash, Damm and Boothby demanding an apology and acknowledgement of wrong-doing. Within the message, I attempted appealing to their humanity, giving them some history on the potent and explosive legacy of lynching in America and the need for them not to view it as a subject of humor. The next morning I went to the photo-lab at 6:30 A.M. and retrieved the hangman’s noose, which was still tied on top of the vent duct. I wasn’t prepared for the level of emotion jolting through my body as I untied the noose. I remember the tears becoming almost uncontrollable. While taking the noose upstairs to my locker, Lithographer Second Class (LI2) Karen James, the night shift supervisor, saw me and asked if I was okay. I responded that I was, but deep down inside I was quite shaken by it all — as the images of so many being killed this way went through my mind, and knowing that there’d been no real retribution and/or reparation for these heinous crimes until this very day.
It was evident the next day, upon seeing the smirk still on Boothby’s face, that no apology was forthcoming. At this point, I decided enough was enough. I had already alerted my immediate chain of command six months earlier, during the evaluation process of the existing oppressive culture within our work space. The evaluation process is where sailors give input on a “Brag Sheet” and are assessed by their divisional chain of commands and ranked according to performance. During this process sailors are asked to express their thoughts on improving their immediate work center, which I was candidly critical about in terms of the prevailing racist and xenophobic culture, and acts against other shipmates. I described an environment where sexist and racist remarks were constantly made to males and females, including references to the Ku Klux Klan. Instead of investigating my complaints, the senior chief PO, one Eric Sesit, told me during this process that not only was I the problem, but in fact I was the racist.

Based on the disposition of my shop chain of command, I decided to press my experiences and complaint forward via a letter to the entire Administrative Department (our ship was organized into Departments, the Media Division was within the Admin Department) chain of command, including the CMC and the ship’s Equal Opportunity Advisor. I knew the Naval ethos was to handle situations at the lowest level, which to me equated to sweeping situations under the rug and preventing the chain of command and junior petty officers from being held accountable. I was determined this would not happen in this case.

Before composing my letter, I consulted with Petty Officer Chris Mason and Seaman Javier Capella — a native of Puerto Rico who had been mocked and jeered by other White petty officers due to his accent and being Muslim — both of whom strongly endorsed my proposed action. In a clandestine manner, I entered the Public Affairs Office (PAO) shortly after midnight on January 12th to compose my letter while reading Claude McKay’s “If We Must Die” a militant response to the race riots of 1919 sparked by black veterans demanding racial justice upon coming home to the United States at the end of World War I. I clicked “Send” on the desktop at 3:00 A.M. By 7:00 A.M. that morning, a full Equal Opportunity Investigation had been initiated.
The morning of January 12th, the EO Advisor had me sign paperwork which included designating Chris Mason as my advocate within this process. Subsequently, Boothby designated the lead black male PO in the shop, Reginald Buggs, to act as his advocate. My most salient memory of Buggs, along with him advocating for Boothby, was his nearly physically attacking me in the photo-lab one day due to my resisting his hoodlum-like assault on my character. On the surface, Buggs serving as an advocate for an overtly racist white PO seems absurd — but in reality it is far less so. Internalizing oppression is all but a requirement for African-Americans to successfully ascend the Navy’s ranks, and ultimately across the military’s various services. As a postscript, Reginald Buggs retired as a Master-Chief, the Navy’s highest enlisted rank.

A dental officer led the EO Investigation and used a divisional wide survey to assess my allegations. Surprisingly, nearly one-third of the shop affirmed that an oppressive culture did in fact exist. Those that stepped forward represented a cross-section of the shop. In terms of race and gender, we had three black males (including myself), one Latino male, one white female and two white males. The support of the lone female, LI2 James, was foreshadowed by her expressing empathy towards me the early morning after the incident when I had the noose in my hand. James was previously the victim of having misogynistic pictures of her plastered on the back wall of the photo-lab — which the shop chain of command clearly ignored.
The Investigating Officer ruled in my favor and Boothby was charged with violation of Article 92 (Failure to Obey Order of Regulation) of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) and Article 134 (Known as the “Catch All” for offenses not directly prescribed). Bash was charged in Violation of Article 92 for witnessing the incident and not doing anything about it. The case proceeded to the Executive Officer’s (XO) Inquiry which is a step before Captain’s Mast – non-judicial punishment. Unlike a year earlier, this time around my immediate chain of command were the ones pressed against the wall. Rod’s advice to be patient, build collective solidarity, and “dig deeper” had paid off.

The proceeding XO Inquiry would be unconventional for everyone involved. Not only were the perpetrator and lead petty officer being held accountable but also the divisional chain of command as well. Right before the inquiry, Senior Chief Sesit asked me to bring him the noose to present at the hearing. Sesit was attempting to present himself as my advocate. I was about to retrieve it but stopped midway and decided not to, even though I was clearly violating an order. This was the same senior-chief who told me six months earlier that I was the “racist” in the shop. Therefore I decided not to give him the noose. I put it in a brown paper bag and placed it on Executive Officer Bruce Lindsey’s desk right before the hearing. When Sesit saw me again before the hearing, he asked me for the noose and I told him I have given it to the Executive Officer because I did not trust him or any level of my Chain of Command to defend and stand with me. My fear was that Sesit could have discarded the noose and have used the impunity implicit within the Chain of Command to challenge its existence during the XOI.

The hearing started with XO Lindsey asking the lone First Class Petty Officer, Fernando Allen of Panama, about the “grab-ass” in the shop. In his survey, Allen noted how junior petty officers would violate and grab the private parts of the more junior sailors. Allen stood firm, highlighting the concern and need for accountability. Lindsey then asked who else in the shop knew about the noose. Upon Petty Officers Damm and Joshua Kelsey raising their hands, Lindsey charged them on site for violating the UCMJ stating they would be held accountable for not reporting their prior knowledge to the chain of command. Both Boothby and Bash pleaded guilty to their charges. Lindsey tore into both of them, letting them know how their behavior compromised “our” fight against terrorism and isolated members of our team. At one point, the CMC Beth Lambert pulled the noose out of the bag with tears flowing down her face, screaming that this does not represent the naval core values of Honor, Courage and Commitment. She then looked at me, smiling, stating that she and I could go out and burn the noose together. Lindsey and Lambert also tore into Sesit and Chief Ernest Frazier, highlighting that both of them, one Jewish American and the other African American, should have instinctively been responsive to the situation in the shop. Lindsey decided to send both Boothby and Bash to a Captain’s Mast. The recommended punishment for Bootby was reduction in rank, sixty days of restriction to the ship, and two months on half-pay. Bash was recommended for a letter of reprimand and reduction in rank.

Immediately following the XO’s Inquiry, before the case proceeded to Captain’s Mast, Sesit and Frazier attempted to present me with two disciplinary counseling records which I viewed as retaliatory in  nature. One counseling was for supposed improper circumvention of the chain of command by writing my letter that triggered the EO investigation, and not addressing the situation directly within my shop. The second counseling was for failure to give my Senior Chief the noose before the XO Inquiry. I refused to sign either record and wrote a rebuttal to the lead First Class PO, Sonia Moore. I stated that Basic Military Requirements states a sailor has the right to seek higher authority if the immediate chain of command does not provide proper redress in an adverse situation. As for refusal to give the Senior Chief the noose, I viewed it as an unjust order and refused to sign that counseling record too.

On March 2nd 2006, nine days before the end of our seaborne deployment, the Captain held Mast for my chain of command and all the sailors within the division that had filled out the EO surveys. This hearing was much different in tone than the XO Inquiry. Captain J.R. Haley was a lot milder than the Executive Officer, asking my chain of command how they felt about the perpetrator. They spoke favorably of Boothby, stating he had been doing great work since the incident. I was taken aback by both the lenient demeanor of Captain Haley and by Sesit and Frazier defending Boothby. Haley in return punished Boothby with 30 days of restriction to the ship (30 less than what the XO recommended), reduction in rank to E-2 (which inevitably pushed Boothby out of the Navy, not due to his racist infraction but to “Higher Tenure,” a policy mandating sailors must make and maintain rank within a given time period to sustain their naval careers) and forfeiture of $751.00 pay per month for two months. However, Boothby’s forfeiture of pay was suspended by Haley for six months to give Boothby an incentive not to commit any further misconduct. Bash was given an oral reprimand, reduction in rank to E-4, and forfeiture of $400.00 pay per month for one month. Haley, however, also suspended both Bash’s reduction in rank and forfeiture of pay for a period of 6-months to give Bash the same incentive as Boothby. Haley suspending punishment proved vital for Bash advancing to the level of Senior Chief Petty Officer (E8) years after his dereliction of duty. Following his discharge from the Navy, Boothby went on to serve as a Photographer within the enlisted ranks of the United States Army, rising to the rank of Sergeant.

Given the severity of the offense, I viewed Haley’s Captain’s Mast as merely a slap on the wrist for both Bash and Boothby. After thinking for a couple of days after the Mast and talking it over with my supportive shipmates (Mason and Capella) I decided to appeal the results of the Captain’s Mast to higher authority on three counts:

  1. I believed the punishment was inadequate and did not represent the Navy’s purported “zerotolerance” policy in terms of Racism and Xenophobia. I felt the punishment was adequate for general derelict behavior but not something of this magnitude. I believed Bash and Boothby’s actions were Court Martial worthy offenses, which carried potentially steeper maximum punishments.
  2.  Sesit lied during the investigatory process, stating I had never told him of the situation in the shop, even though I told him six months prior to the incident. I believed he should be held accountable for lying to an investigatory officer.
  3. I was denied a copy of the investigatory file in the case. I filed a Freedom of Information Act request (FOIA) to retrieve the file.

Once our ship pulled back in port I did research to strengthen my appeal and came across the Center on Conscience and War. It was on their website that I learned every member of the military could contact their member of Congress. In the spirit of causing some of the “Good Trouble” he famously urged, I contacted the late civil rights icon, Congressman John Lewis’ office in the 5th Congressional District of Georgia, where my parents resided. His caseworker, Ms. Tuere Butler was very responsive. I forwarded her a privacy release form, which allowed the Congressmember to inquire into my case. He wrote a letter to the Navy regarding my concerns and the Navy responded to him on April 19th (my 29th birthday) stating, in essence, that they had done all they were going to do and thanking the Congressmember for his concerns. However, by the Navy responding to Lewis about my concerns, it made the case one of public record which, I consider an eternal victory for this present and future generations of enlisted military personnel likely to encounter racism and xenophobia within the ranks-as they will need a mechanism through which to organize and resist.

I both reaffirmed and internalized new organizing principles based on the struggle I waged against racism and all forms of oppression during my tenure onboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt. It is my hope these principles can be utilized and enhanced by freedom seeking enlisted military personnel going forward:

  • Once you decide to go to Equal Opportunity, you must be determined to go all the way fully embracing all the sacrifices (to include psychological and physical pain) along with retaliation sure to come your way from your immediate Chain of Command. There’s no turning back, you will be negatively targeted by your Chain of Command. The Chain will present themselves as your advocates which is not true. The Chain of Command is an extension of Command-Military and State Authority which in the United States is antithetical to Anti-Racism and Anti-Oppression.
  • Find a strategic way to engage your entire Chain of Command and NOT solely your division and shop to minimize Racism-Oppression being swept under the rug. Keeping the Racism-Xenophobia solely within your shop ensures that it is never addressed by the command’s broader leadership.
    It’s imperative you be a squared away soldier, marine, sailor etc.
  • Your immediate colleagues will not support you if you’re performing subpar and failing to fully engage the oppressive work environment as they are. In order to build solidarity, you must fully embrace “The Suck.”
  • It’s best to be embedded within your command for at least a year, at most two years to obtain best results filing a complaint. Best to build collectively to the degree that you can to minimize isolation. The strength of the internal process comes from other personnel validating oppressive conditions.
  • Outside Support is Imperative from Veteran Peace Organizations and/or Veterans of Movement work within the ranks. Absent outside support from a key veteran of the Vietnam GI Movement, I would have remained AWOL until this very day.
    Build Clandestine Support within — don’t be out front until you’re ready. Building internal support is connected to being a squared enlisted grunt which endears your colleagues to you going forward.
  • .Distinction must be made between a Hate Crime and Discrimination. A Hate Crime is a heinous act against a person’s identity  committed by an individual or group of perpetrators. Discrimination is based on how authorities with State Power treat persons within the letter of the law. One of the few if not only errors I made in waging the struggle against the Hangman’s Noose is my reference to the act within my initial letter to the Chain of Command as “Racist
    Intimidation” and not a “Hate Crime.” This proved pivotal due to the Chain of Command stating to Congressman John Lewis that lower level Petty Officers were guilty of discrimination when it was my shop’s Chain of Command that had discriminated against me which was ultimately backed up by Naval Authority in their refusal to hold Senior Chief Eric Sesit accountable for lying to the Investigatory Officer during the investigation. The lower level Petty Officer (Boothby) committed a Hate Crime against me by pulling out the Hangman’s Noose. The Navy discriminated against me for not holding the perpetrator along with the Senior Petty Officer present (Bash) fully accountable to the maximum extent of Military Authority. To my knowledge, the Military does not have a defined definition of what constitutes a Hate Crime.
  • Leverage your Congressional Member ONLY after you have totally exhausted the Internal Command Process. Congressmembers have no Power to force the Military to act. The purpose of leveraging your Member of Congress has less to do with bringing about justice and more to do with placing your case within the public sphere to educate, teach and train others on how to obtain leverage. Utilize this process to bring potential accountability upon the Military.

Eternal love and Mad Respect to GI Movement Veteran Rodney Green, drafted out of Yale University in 1969, for pushing me back to the ship in January of 2005. I was Honorably Discharged from the United States Navy August 16th 2011 after 7 years, 7 months and 1 day of Active Duty service.


Jonathan W. Hutto, Sr., is an anti-oppression community organizer and author who has made substantial contributions within both non-profits and grassroots organizations for over a quarter century. Jonathan embraced his calling as an Undergraduate Student at Howard University in the late 1990’s. In 2006, as an enlisted member of the United States Navy, he co-founded the Appeal For Redress from the Iraq War, which was awarded the 2007 Letelier Moffitt Human Rights Award from the Institute for Policy Studies. He can be reached at