Sexual Assault Awareness Posters Removed by Navy: Vet

Navy supports woman's cause, but fears the banners would serve as a "trigger" for victims

A Navy veteran hoped banners hung along the pedestrian bridge near Naval Base San Diego would shed light on military sexual assaults.

But, Brittany Fintel said, the banners that share stories of sexual assault survivors were removed by the Navy less than 24 hours after being hung last weekend.

Fintel and other survivors hung the posts to recognize that April is sexual assault awareness month.

Fintel said she wasn’t surprised they were removed by the Navy, but she was angry they were taken down so quickly.

“As a victim, I was infuriated,” she said. “They removed them after two days of being hung last year, so we knew that they were going to be taken down. However, we didn’t know less than 24 – less than 12 hours – that they were going to be hanging up.”

A Navy Public Affairs released a statement on Thursday, saying the Navy feared the banners would be a “trigger.”

“The Navy in San Diego continues to vigorously pursue the elimination of sexual assault,” the statement read. “The signs/banners that were hung without previous discussion on the pedestrian bridge at Naval Base San Diego could have served as a trigger for sexual assault victims or survivors, or their family members, and were removed and returned.”

Fintel, who says she was raped by her leading petty officer during a 2012 deployment to Bahrain, didn’t see the banners as negative.

“We didn’t want this to come across as a protest or military bashing,” she said. “We just wanted to strictly empower the victims as well as create awareness for military sexual assault.”
Fintel plans to apply for a city permit to have the right to hang the banners next April.

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