The furor over the behavior of a group of Catholic school students from Kentucky toward a Native American elder during weekend protests in Washington, D.C., took a turn Sunday with the emergence of a new video.
The one-hour, video presents a fuller picture of the Friday events that culminated with students from the all-male Covington Catholic High School coming face-to-face with Nathan Phillips, a longtime Native American activist and Vietnam veteran, as he chanted and banged a drum in front of the Lincoln Memorial.
A viral clip that shows the teenagers – several of them wearing "Make America Great Again" hats – laughing, hooting and hollering while surrounding Phillips drew widespread condemnation and prompted the school and the Diocese of Covington to issue an apology and promise to take “appropriate action, up to and including expulsion.’’
The longer version of the incident is more complex, and now that it has surfaced, the rush to judge the teenagers is coming under attack.
“The honorable and tolerant students of Covington Catholic School came to DC to advocate for the unborn and to learn about our nation’s Capitol,’’ tweeted Republican Rep. Thomas Massie, whose district includes the part of Northern Kentucky where the school is located. “What they got was a brutal lesson in the unjust court of public opinion and social media mobs.’’
In a statement on Sunday, Nick Sandmann, a junior at the school who was at the center of the students' apparent confrontation with Phillips, defended himself and his family against "outright lies" in the media. Both videos show Sandmann, who was wearing a MAGA hat, smirking and staring at Phillips for more than two minutes while standing about a foot from him.
“I believed that by remaining motionless and calm, I was helping to diffuse the situation,’’ Sandmann said. “I realized everyone had cameras and that perhaps a group of adults was trying to provoke a group of teenagers into a larger conflict.’’
Sandmann also said he and his family have received death threats. “I am being called every name in the book, including racist, and I will not stand for this mob-like character assassination of my family’s name," he said.
Source: USA Today