On Friday, a March for Life anti-abortion event was held in Washington, D.C. An Indigenous Peoples March was held on the same day.
A group of students who planned on attending the anti-abortion march ended up being filmed mocking Native Americans who were a part of the Indigenous Peoples March. Now one student has spoken up on the controversy.
from Covington Catholic High School in Kentucky was among the group who were seen mocking Native Americans. Nick Sandmann, a junior at the school, was filmed wearing a red MAGA cap while starring down a Native American man.
On Sunday, Sandmann broke his silence on the controversy. The student explained in an emailed statement:
“I never interacted with this protestor. I did not speak to him. I did not make any hand gestures or other aggressive moves.”
He added that he “even said a silent prayer that the situation would not get out of hand.” Sandmann stated that the aftermath of the clash has culminated in him being called “every name in the book, including a racist.”
He even shared that he and his family had received death threats. The student revealed that he was speaking up to “correct misinformation and outright lies being spread about my family and me.”
Sandmann and his schoolmates came across Nathan Phillips, 64, and other Native Americans who were part of the Indigenous Peoples March. The students met the group as they performed the “American Indian Movement” song.
Sandmann’s group was filmed clapping with smiles on their faces as they mockingly sang and danced along to the song. The junior was filmed standing face-to-face with Vietnam War veteran Phillips.
However, the student claims the clash between the two groups began long before the filming started. Sandmann shared that some African-American protesters on the Lincoln Memorial steps taunted his group for a while.
Then his fellow students asked chaperones for permission to chant their school sports songs in retaliation. It appears that the African-American’s who taunted the students were a religious group called the Black Hebrew Israelites.
The junior shared: “The protesters said hateful things.” Sandmann was referring to the Hebrew Israelites which he called African-American protesters.
He said they called them “racists,” “bigots,” “incest kids,” derogatory racial slurs, and offensive terms for homosexuals. The Hebrew Israelites also taunted an African-American student by telling him that the white children would “harvest his organs.”
Phillips and his group approached Sandmann and the other students who “parted for him.” Sandmann recalled that the army vet then “locked eyes with me and approached me, coming within inches of my face.”
The student added, “He played his drum the entire time he was in my face.” The junior shared that he was “startled and confused” by Phillips’ actions.
He further added:
“At no time did I hear any student chant anything other than the school spirit chants. I did not witness or hear any students chant ‘build that wall’ or anything hateful or racist at any time. Assertions to the contrary are simply false. Our chants were loud because we wanted to drown out the hateful comments that were being shouted at us by the protestors.”
Philips also gave his version of the incident. He explained that the boys initially took issue, not with the Black Hebrew Israelites which consisted of around 4 to 5 people.
The army veteran revealed that the men said “harsh things” that the students didn’t agree with. Philips explained that he intervened as he saw that things were escalating between the two groups.
He elaborated: “I put myself in between that, between a rock and a hard place.” However, the students turned on him and started mocking his actions.
The veteran added:
“[They had a] mob mentality that was scary. . . . It was ugly, what these kids were involved. It was racism. It was hatred. It was scary.”
“It’s like we need somebody to blame again for our failings,” he said. “Our President is kind of . . . feeding the fires of racism. Some of the things he’s been saying have been divisive, the building of the wall. . . . Why do we have to build a wall on the southern border and not the northern border?”
Eventually, the students parted ways with Philips and the Hebrew Israelites continued speaking to them. The incident ended when the buses arrived and the students left.
The Diocese of Covington and Covington Catholic High School in Covington, Ky. has since issued a statement condemning the students’ actions.
“This behavior is opposed to the church’s teachings on the dignity and respect of the human person. The matter is being investigated and we will take appropriate action, up to and including expulsion.”
Some of the remarks that caused tension involved a 16-year-old boy who told the group of Native American men that they stole land from “the Aboriginals.” A voice could be heard saying, “Just because you stole the land, don't make it yours.”
The student, who is wearing an Owensboro Catholic High School hoodie, and Trump hat, can be heard replying:
“…and y'all stole it from the Aboriginals…it's been stolen throughout all of history…land gets stolen…it's how it works…it's the way of the world.”