Teacher reportedly 'on leave' after labeling student 'Hitler Youth'

Pedro Marrero
Jan 30, 2019
10:15 P.M.
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The Colorado school teacher reportedly used the epithet to publicly shame a student that wasn’t actually in Washington when a group of students from Kentucky starred in a tense episode with a Native American activist.


The video of a face-to-face meeting between a group of Catholic school students wearing “Make America Great Again” and a Native American activist in Washington D.C. became viral on January 18, with many questioning the teens’ behavior.

The incident sparked widespread outrage from netizens who considered that the young men from Covington Catholic High School in Kentucky were disrespecting the Omaha tribe elder Nathan Phillips, 64.



Footage captured outside the Lincoln Memorial during the encounter caused contrasting reactions that reflect the current radical polarization of US politics, with two views in permanent conflict.

While the surfacing of a longer video that makes the incident look more complex than it was first assumed to be have made many Republicans speak out in defense of the white students, other people have kept condemning the teenagers.

The New York Times wrote a piece that invited the public to take a look at the bigger picture regarding what was happening when the viral 3-minute, 44-second clip was taken.



A teacher from the Mountain Ridge Middle School in Colorado was among the people who took to social media to criticize the students for their interaction with Phillips, but she might have gone too far, and it backlashed.

According to 9News, the teacher, named Michelle Grissom, was reported to the Douglas County School District because of a since-deleted tweet on which she referred to a student as “Hitler Youth,” apparently mistaking him for someone else.



As a result of this, Grissom resigned from her role on the teachers union’s board and was placed on paid leave, as the district authorities told the parents of the affected student.

John Jackson is the father of the Covington School student who was wrongfully accused of being one of the boys present during the viral incident, and he shared that he had asked Grissom to take down the derogatory tweets.

According to this man, his son Jay was not even in Washington D.C. the Friday when the events unfolded, as he had to stay in Kentucky because he had basketball games.


“I hope this is dealt with appropriately and swiftly... my son was harassed and bullied as a result of this teachers rush to judgment... totally abhorrent behavior and inexcusable actions that need to have consequences.”

-John Jackson, Twitter, January 20, 2018.


The New York Times wrote a piece that invited the public to take a look at the bigger picture regarding what was happening when the viral 3-minute, 44-second clip was taken.

After interviewing witnesses and looking at additional footage it was determined that the segment showing Phillips playing his drum as he faces the smiling students is only one among a series of tense moments.


“An explosive convergence of race, religion and ideological beliefs – against a national backdrop of political tension – set the stage for the viral moment,” the news outlet explained.


Apart from the Native Americans protesting against the Dakota Access oil pipeline, there was an anti-abortion demonstration where the Catholic students were participating.

Additionally, a group of black men identified as Hebrew Israelites was allegedly shouting offensive comments related to their ethnicity to both the Native Americans and the students, as witnesses and footage show.

Before anything worse could happen, Phillips said he approached the students to keep them from entering into conflict with the black men, and he was soon surrounded by the students as he prayed with his ceremonial drum.


“I did smile at one point because I wanted him to know that I was not going to become angry, intimidated or be provoked into a larger confrontation,” junior high school student Nick Sandmann said about the episode.

“I am a faithful Christian and practicing Catholic, and I always try to live up to the ideals my faith teaches me — to remain respectful of others, and to take no action that would lead to conflict or violence,” he added.



After these new findings, President Trump himself became involved in the discussion, defending the Catholic students from the “early judgments” that were made about them.

“Looking like Nick Sandman & Covington Catholic students were treated unfairly with early judgments proving out to be false - smeared by media. Not good, but making big comeback! “’New footage shows that media was wrong about teen’s encounter with Native American,’” Trump tweeted.


Singer Pink was one of the high profile personalities who condemned the student’s actions with strong words, and even when new information surfaced about the incident, she refused to apologize.

“I have always admitted when I am wrong. I have apologized many times. I’m a big believer in apologies when you’re wrong,” she wrote on Instagram.

“I was raised by a Vietnam Veteran who taught me to stand up for what I believe to be right. Even if that means standing alone. I do not now, nor have I ever apologized for some of my very polarizing opinions,” she added.

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