The Catholic students featured in a widely misinterpreted video following Friday’s March for Life continue to face the unfortunate consequences of the false media narrative surrounding their interaction with a Native American demonstrator in Washington, D.C.
Covington Catholic High School in Kentucky was closed Tuesday due to security concerns over multiple threats and protests being held to condemn a group of boys for their alleged racism.
Even after complete footage of the students’ interaction with Native American man Nathan Phillips surfaced online, debunking many claims that the students intentionally disrespected and intimidated him, the activist told the Cincinnati Enquirer he believes the students should be expelled.
“At first I wanted the teachers and chaperones to be reprimanded, some fired, for letting this happen,” Phillips told the outlet Tuesday. “For the students, I was against any expulsions, but now I have to revisit that.”
Phillips explained that he changed his mind after reading a statement written by Nick Sandmann, the student predominately featured in the video, in which he gave his personal account of Friday’s encounter.
“He needs to put out a different statement,” Phillips said. “I’m disappointed with his statement. He didn’t accept any responsibility. That lack of responsibility, I don’t accept it.”
What happened Friday?
In video footage that bubbled to the surface Sunday, Nick Sandmann — wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat — could be seen smirking as Nathan Phillips, an elderly Native American activist and Marine veteran, stood drumming in his face. Sandmann and his high school peers were in Washington, D.C., for the March for Life rally Friday while Phillips was attending an Indigenous People’s March held on the same day.
What does the student claim?
Sandmann said that by smiling and standing still during Phillips’s demonstration, he was doing what he could to diffuse what was already a tense and bizarre situation, given radical protesters associated with the Black Hebrew Israelite movement were already hurling racist, bigoted and sexually explicit insults at the group of teenagers, many of whom were wearing pro-Trump gear, before Phillips arrived on the scene.
“I believed that by remaining motionless and calm, I was helping to diffuse the situation,” Sandmann wrote. “I realized everyone had cameras and that perhaps a group of adults was trying to provoke a group of teenagers into a larger conflict. I said a silent prayer that the situation would not get out of hand.”
According to Sandmann’s claims, which the full video footage appears to confirm, there is no need to “accept responsibility” for anything. As a result of the mischaracterization of Sandmann’s actions, the student from Covington Catholic High School in Park Hills, Kentucky, said he and his family have faced an onslaught of “death threats” and “hateful insults.”
What are people saying now?
Many in the media continue to spread slanderous information about the Catholic school’s alleged history of “racist” behavior, furthering what is, by all reasonable accounts, a false narrative.
The incident was more complex than it seemed, but new footage doesn’t exonerate the MAGA kids. https://t.co/ixBc8H5VY3
— Slate (@Slate) January 21, 2019
Here is a video of Covington Catholic students at a basketball game. It was uploaded to their YouTube channel in 2015 but has recently been removed.
Several students in the video have painted their faces and bodies black. This is called "black face." It is used to insult POC. pic.twitter.com/uaHCIOdSk6
— Sergio Siáno (@siano2020) January 21, 2019
Gawker doubles down on false narrative that Covington Catholic students were belligerent racist misogynistic white nationalists harassing a Native American. I hope Gawker gets sued into bankruptcy again.
— Paul Sacca (@Paul_Sacca) January 22, 2019
"Nothing makes me feel blacker than watching society’s treatment of white men." https://t.co/eJ3sZQqhpg
— VICE (@VICE) January 21, 2019
Supporters of the Covington Catholic racists are using pretend arguments about how the kids are being persecuted by “fake media.” If members of the Catholic Church want to be known for defending & supporting pedophile priests & Trump-loving Nazis-in-themaking, have at it, I guess
— Tina Vasquez (@TheTinaVasquez) January 21, 2019
Covington Catholic apparently has had a racist student problem for quite some time: https://t.co/bBtksuYobN
— Thom Hartmann (@Thom_Hartmann) January 21, 2019
In the midst of all the outrage, one thing remains unclear: what sort of evidence, in the media’s eyes, would vindicate the Covington students’ already tarnished reputations? Are they so ideologically cemented that nothing could compel them to retract false claims and reports? At the moment, it certainly appears that way.