Facing widespread backlash, New England Patriots draft pick Justin Rohrwasser says he now plans to remove a tattoo representing the Three Percenters, an anti-government extremist movement with adherents linked to Islamophobic and racist violence.
Rohrwasser, who was drafted by the NFL team in the fifth round on Saturday, told CBS Boston WBZ on Monday that he planned to get the tattoo “totally taken off my body.”
“It’s shameful that I had it on there ignorantly,” Rohrwasser said.
The new Patriots kicker claimed that he only became aware on Saturday of some of the “horrific” events the group was linked to, including the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017. He initially told reporters over the weekend that he planned to have the tattoo covered up before stating plans to have it removed altogether on Monday.
The Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center classifies the Three Percenters as an anti-government extremist group that’s part of a right-wing militia movement. “The reference to 3 percent stems from the dubious historical claim that only 3 percent of American colonists fought against the British during the War of Independence,” the SPLC website states.
Armed members of the Three Percenters have made their presence known at openly racist rallies, including the one in Charlottesville. However, they sought to distance themselves from “white supremacists and Nazis” or any “racist group” in a statement after that deadly rally.
The group claims on its website that it is not a militia or anti-government.
“In fact, we are very pro-government, so long as the government abides by the Constitution, doesn’t overstep its bounds, and remains ‘for the people and by the people.’”
Rohrwasser, 23, told CBS Boston that he got the tattoo when he was 18 years old and claimed that at the time, he thought it was merely a symbol of being “patriotic.”
“It was described to me as the percentage of colonists that rose up against the authoritarian government of the British ... and I thought, ‘Wow that’s such an American sentiment, a Patriotic sentiment,’” he said. He later noted that he comes from a military family.
The Washington Post reported that Rohrwasser, who also has tattoos with phrases that read “Don’t tread on me” and “Liberty or death,” told Marshall University website The Herd last year that his tattoos were “all random.”
Rohrwasser received criticism on Twitter for his tattoo and for saying that he was unaware of the group’s connections until days ago: