The video of a male Catholic student and an American Indian went viral. National media and social media pushed it as an example of racism yet a fuller picture is now emerging of a confrontation between the student and his classmates and others at Friday’s March for Life.
Nick Sandmann was among a group of fellow students from Kentucky’s Covington Catholic High School attending the march on the National Mall, while Native American Nathan Phillips was also there for a separate rally for indigenous peoples.
One video of the encounter shows the Catholic students chanting and laughing as Phillips drummed in Sandmann’s face. The footage was shared on social media and went viral, claiming that the boys blocked the Native American so they could taunt him. Liberal media outlets like CNN picked up the story and ran with it, fueling the outrage from leftists who spewed hate against the boys, assuming they were racist because some of them were wearing “Make America Great Again” hats.
But longer videos of the encounter show the boys standing in that spot for a long period of time before Phillips walked up to them to play his drum right in the middle of their group.
“The protester everyone has seen in the video began playing his drum as he waded into the crowd, which parted for him. I did not see anyone try to block his path,” Sandmann said, contradicting the Native American elder’s claims that one of the students wouldn’t let him move. “He locked eyes with me and approached me, coming within inches of my face. He played his drum the entire time he was in my face.”
The students were later condemned for their actions, but Sandmann, who was shown standing in front of Mr. Phillips smiling, says he was only trying to calm things down in the midst of the chaos. The teen explained that by “remaining motionless and calm,” he believed he was “helping defuse the situation.”
“I said a silent prayer that the situation would not get out of hand,” he wrote.
Likewise, Phillips says it was his intent as well to try to calm down things between conflicting groups.
“They were making remarks to each other … (such as) ‘In my state those Indians are nothing but a bunch of drunks.’ How do I report that?” Phillips said of the students. “These young people were just roughshodding through our space, like what’s been going on for 500 years here — just walking through our territories, feeling like ‘this is ours.'”
But then on NPR Monday morning, Phillips said he had gone over to calm things down because a group of protesters, whom he compared to a black version of the racist group called the Westboro Baptists, was stoking confrontation.
And Sandmann denies the students made derogatory statements, suggesting it was members of that third group affiliated with the Black Hebrew Israelites that were fomenting unrest, allegedly yelling negative statements at both groups. He noted the Black Israelites called he and his fellow students “racists,” ″bigots,” “white crackers” and “incest kids.” One video also shows them using the “n” word, telling an African-American boy who appeared to be with the school group that the white people were going to steal his organs.
Videos of the Catholic boys from different angles backs up Sandmann’s contention that they did not yell anything racist or obscene.
Meanwhile, Sandmann responded to critics on social media who he says erroneously interpreted his actions as being racist.
“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,” he said.