Teens from a Catholic high school faced a social media firestorm on Saturday following their interaction with Nathan Phillips, a Native American and Vietnam War veteran, at the March for Life rally in Washington, D.C.
A video posted to social media and mainstream news outlets across the country shows a mob of teens standing around Phillips during Friday's first Indigenous Peoples March in Washington, D.C. They appear to mock and harass him as he sings the American Indian Movement song on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.
One of the students stands close to Phillips and stares at him with a smirk on his face. Others are making hand gestures and laughing. Headlines across the nation blared that the teens were wearing Make America Great Again hats. Some of them, but not all of them, were wearing the hats.
Social media users whipped up even more of a frenzy when they pointed out that the students were from Covington Catholic High School in Park Hills, Kentucky. The website for the all-male college prep school indicated that students were indeed in Washington to attend the March for Life.
Following the public backlash, other comments and videos have surfaced that suggest another side of the story. They include:
Just finished talking with Kids who were at the protest.
They were there for “March for Lives" not protesting against Native Americans.
Read their responses. pic.twitter.com/kg6GtvZGRL
— Joey Salads (@JoeySalads) January 19, 2019
Sorry I am not buying! Watch the video it tells a very different story. pic.twitter.com/kO8pV3jDbf
— Pat Campbell (@PC1170) January 19, 2019
More Media Lies
There was no #MAGA mob hounding a Native American
Mult Native Americans instigated an incident walking into a peaceful group of kids & taunting one chanting & drumming inches fm his face
No one said "Build the Wall"
& if anything
That kid deserves a peace medal pic.twitter.com/lPbPtQtTh7
— Jim Hanson (@Uncle_Jimbo) January 20, 2019
“Covington Catholic student bothering elder man" yet here is evidence of the man approaching them during their school cheer not disturbing anyone. Doesn't make sense pic.twitter.com/SRYRJOIoKf
— Maria Judy (@mariajudy_) January 19, 2019
How did he respond?
Phillips said on Twitter that he wishes the group of young men would put their energy into something more positive, such as making America a better country.
"I heard them saying 'build that wall, build that wall,'" Phillips said in a Twitter video as tears rolled down his face. "This is indigenous land, you're not supposed to have walls here. We never did for a millennia...We never had a prison; we always took care of our elders, took care of our children, always provided for them. We taught them right from wrong."
His name is Nathan Phillips. A Vietnam veteran. Here he speaks about the incident.
“I wish I could see that energy, of that mass of young men, making this country really, really, great... Helping those that are hungry."
Video Via @LeMeTellUSumtin pic.twitter.com/ven8Z034kF
— Greg Hogben (@MyDaughtersArmy) January 19, 2019
In the end, the Diocese of Covington and Covington Catholic High School issued the following statement on Saturday:
We condemn the actions of the Covington Catholic High School students towards Nathan Phillips specifically, and Native Americans in general, Jan. 18, after the March for Life, in Washington, D.C. We extend our deepest apologies to Mr. Phillips. 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.
We know this incident also has tainted the entire witness of the March for Life and express our most sincere apologies to all those who attended the March and all those who support the pro-life movement.
Have we heard the end of this story? Probably not.