TEEN INVOLVED IN CONFRONTATION WITH NATIVE AMERICAN MAN DENIES WRONGDOING
A Kentucky teenager who was seen in controversial video that spread like wildfire across social media on Saturday, steadily staring and smiling at an elderly Native American protester who was singing and drumming inches away right in front of him outside the Lincoln Memorial as his schoolmates laughed and chanted, denied in a statement last night that he'd done anything wrong.
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Identifying himself as Nick Sandmann, a junior at all-male Covington Catholic High School, he claimed he was trying to calm the situation, stating, "I am being called every name in the book, including a racist, and I will not stand for this mob-like character assassination of my family’s name."
The Native American man, a Vietnam veteran named Nathan Phillips, who was in Washington Friday for the Indigenous Peoples March, has also said that he was trying to defuse tensions, but between the Covington students, who had been in D.C. for the anti-abortion March for Life on the same day, and a few members of the Black Israelites religious group, who'd lobbed insults at the teens. The teens were taunting them in return, and Phillips walked into the group of boys drumming and chanting, he says with the aim of calming things down.
Video shows many of the students appeared to be laughing at Philips, mockingly chanting and dancing, and at least one student did a tomahawk chop, this while the confrontation between him and Sandmann was taking place.
Philips has said he heard the boys, some of whom were wearing red "Make America Great Again" hats, chanting, "Build that wall," but no video has surfaced that shows that and Sandmann denies hearing anything but school chants.
Phillips has claimed that Sandmann blocked him and wouldn't let him move forward, but the teen denies that, saying, "He locked eyes with me and approached me, coming within inches of my face." Sandmann stated that he, quote, "believed that by remaining motionless and calm, I was helping defuse the situation."
Many of those outraged by the videos felt so in part because they viewed Sandmann as mockingly grinning at Phillips, but he said he was, quote, "not intentionally making faces at the protester. 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."
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Covington apologized for the incident Saturday, and said they'd take, quote, "appropriate action, up to and including expulsion."