Justin Rorwasser was drafted by the New England Patriots this past Saturday, but social media was quick to point out his "Three Percenters" tattoo—a group affiliated with anti-government, white nationalist ties.
It's been a rough few days for Justin Rohrwasser and the bumpy ride isn't expected to dissipate. The New England Patriots chose Justin Rohrwasser to join their NFL squad this past Saturday during the fifth round of the draft pick, and it didn't take long for the 23-year-old to make headlines. The rookie kicker bears a controversial tattoo that represents "The Three Percenters," a reportedly white nationalist-affiliated, right-wing militia group. They have been classified as "anti-government" by the Southern Poverty Law Center and are considered to be dangerous. The group has been actively protested in the Southern United States against the removal of Confederate statues and monuments, and they actively speak out against Black Lives Matter movements.
According to Rohrwasser, he got the tattoo when he was 18-years-old and didn't know that it was associated with the extremist group. "As soon as I saw what it was linked to on Saturday, it was exactly that time I knew I had to get it totally taken off my body," he said, according to ESPN. "I said [I would] cover it up [to reporters], but I want to get it removed from my body. It's shameful that I had it on there ignorantly." He added that he "should have done way more research before I put any mark or symbol like that on my body."
On Monday (April 27), Justin Rohrwasser explained what he believed the tattoo meant in an interview with CBS Boston. "It was described to me as the percentage of colonists that rose up against the government of the British. I was like 'Wow, that is such an American sentiment. A Patriotic sentiment.' Coming from a military family, I thought that really spoke to me. I always was proud to be an American. I'm very proud to be an American."
"We were celebrating and hugging [Saturday]. So happy," he said. "I went on to Twitter. I saw that someone had taken a picture of me and put it with my tattoo and linking me to some horrific events. Obviously Charlottesville, and these horrible things." Later, Rohrwasser apologized to his loved ones who have been vehemently defending his character. "I'm going to learn from this. I'm going to take ownership of it. This is not who I am. No matter what, that's not who I am. Hopefully, you will all find that out." Watch Justin Rohrwasser speak with CBS Boston below.