Fuller video casts new light on Covington Catholic students’ encounter with Native American elder

Daily News Article   —   Posted on January 23, 2019

Fuller video casts new light on Covington Catholic students’ encounter with Native American elder

In this image made from video provided by the Survival Media Agency, Nick Sandmann, center left, is confronted by Native American activist Nathan Phillips on Friday at a rally in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Survival Media Agency via AP)

(by Jorge L. Ortiz, USA Today) —    …The furor over [a video seemingly showing the perceived rude] behavior of a group of Catholic school students from Kentucky toward a Native American elder…in Washington, D.C., took a turn Sunday with the emergence of a new video.

The [longer] one-hour, 46-minute video presents a fuller picture of the events Friday that culminated with Nathan Phillips, a longtime Native American activist and  [military] veteran coming face-to-face with students from the all-male Covington Catholic High School, as he chanted and banged a drum in front of the Lincoln Memorial. [The teens had participated in a March for Life rally. When it ended, they did some sightseeing then met at the Lincoln Memorial at about 4p.m. to wait for their school buses].

[The original] viral 3-minute, 44-second clip that shows the teenagers – several of them wearing “Make America Great Again” hats – laughing [and because they were wearing MAGA hats, perceived as a mocking manner]…while surrounding Phillips drew widespread condemnation and prompted the school and the Diocese of Covington to issue an apology and promise to take “appropriate action, up to and including expulsion.’’

The longer version of the incident [shows a different story], and now that it has surfaced, the rush to judge the teenagers, who were in the nation’s capital for the [pro-life] March for Life rally, is coming under attack.

“The honorable and tolerant students of Covington Catholic School came to DC to advocate for the unborn and to learn about our nation’s Capitol,’’ tweeted Republican Rep. Thomas Massie, whose district includes the part of Northern Kentucky where the school is located. “What they got was a brutal lesson in the unjust court of public opinion and social media mobs.’’

In a statement on Sunday, Nick Sandmann, a junior at the school who was at the center of the students’ apparent confrontation with Phillips, defended himself and his family against “outright lies” in the media. Both videos show Sandmann, who was wearing a MAGA hat, [calmly] staring at Phillips for more than two minutes [after Phillips approached and stood] about a foot from him.

In the 2½-page long statement, Sandmann denied he was confronting Phillips, [saying] it was the activist who got in his face. He wrote:

“I never interacted with this protestor. I did not speak to him. I did not make any hand gestures or other aggressive moves. To be honest, I was startled and confused as to why he had approached me. We had already been yelled at by another group of protestors, and when the second group approached I was worried that a situation was getting out of control where adults were attempting to provoke teenagers.”.

“I believed that by remaining motionless and calm, I was helping to defuse the situation,’’ Sandmann said. “I realized everyone had cameras and that perhaps a group of adults was trying to provoke a group of teenagers into a larger conflict.’’

Sandmann also said he and his family have received death threats.

“I have received physical and death threats via social media, as well as hateful insults. One person threatened to harm me at school, and one person claims to live in my neighborhood. My parents are receiving death and professional threats because of the social media mob that has formed over this issue,” he said.

The fuller video would seem to assign more blame for the encounter on a group of four or five Black Hebrew Israelites.  [It shows the events leading up to the shorter clip which made the teen appear to be mocking Mr. Phillips.] Sandmann wrote of the students’ encounter with the group :

“They called us “racists,” “bigots,” “white crackers,” “faggots,” and “incest kids.” They also taunted an African American student from my school by telling him that we would “harvest his organs.” I have no idea what that insult means, but it was startling to hear.”].

The main speaker for the Black Hebrew Israelites, hollering without a microphone for more than an hour, first tells some demonstrating Native Americans they had their land taken away because they worshiped the wrong god [an eagle — and that the name “Indian” means “savage”].

When the student party arrives later, the speaker launches into an attack on Catholics and against President Donald Trump. He also calls the mostly white youngsters “crackers.’’

Eventually, the teenagers [try to drown out the shouts of the man], with one of them taking his shirt off and leading the rest in a school cheer. Maintaining a distance of at least 15 feet, they then launch into a chant. That’s when Phillips and his fellow demonstrators walk in, banging drums and getting between the groups. [Phillips said he was tring to diffuse the situation,] although no confrontation appeared imminent.

The students initially seem to react to the drumming in a good-natured way before their participation appears to become more derisive. At one point, the students break into the kind of chant popular with crowds at Atlanta Braves and Florida State Seminoles games, and a few do a “tomahawk chop.’’

…Phillips, 64, an elder of the Omaha Nation, was participating in an Indigenous Peoples March that was concluding when he noticed the verbal clash [the teens being verbally harassed] in front of the Lincoln Memorial steps and decided to intervene.  He said he became frightened as the throng of teenagers grew around him, adding that they yelled at him to “Go back to the reservation’’ and broke into chants of “Build that wall.’’ He also questioned why chaperones did not get involved. [However, there is no evidence from any video that the teens yelled the insults he says he heard.]

Part of his fear, Phillips said, arose from what he perceived as a “mob mentality’’ in the boys.  “It was ugly, what these kids were involved in,’’ he said. “It was racism. It was hatred. It was scary.’’   — editor’s note:  Watch the entire hour+ video on youtube, which was filmed by the Black Hebrew Israelite group.  Decide for yourselves if the teens appear racist. It would appear that the Black Hebrew Israelite group are the ones who are racist: against the teens, Republicans, Donald Trump, Democrats, Native Americans (and the guy on the skateboard).

Reprinted here for educational purposes only. May not be reproduced on other websites without permission from USA Today.

Questions

1. What was the initial reaction by adults to the perceived actions by some Catholic high school students from Kentucky?

2. How does the initial video of the teens make them appear?

3. What is student Nick Sandmann experiencing as a result of adult Twitter users rush to judgement?

4. What does the longer version of the video show?

5. Numerous adults in the media and Hollywood have tweeted criticism of the students. Reza Aslan, who is a member of the American Academy of Religion, the Society of Biblical Literature, and the International Qur’anic Studies Association and a professor of creative writing at University of California, as well as a father of 3, tweeted:

“Honest question. Have you ever seen a more punchable face than this kid’s?”

a) What responsibility does Mr. Aslan, and numerous others have to take responsibility for their tweets?
b) People were calling for the teens’ expulsion from their school. Should Mr. Aslan face any repercussions for calling for violence against a teenager?

6. What is your reaction to this story?


Free Answers — Sign-up here to receive a daily email with answers.

Background

On Jan. 20 CNN published a statement from Nick Sandmann:

(CNN) — I am providing this factual account of what happened on Friday afternoon at the Lincoln Memorial to correct misinformation and outright lies being spread about my family and me.

I am the student in the video who was confronted by the Native American protestor. I arrived at the Lincoln Memorial at 4:30 p.m. I was told to be there by 5:30 p.m., when our busses were due to leave Washington for the trip back to Kentucky. We had been attending the March for Life rally, and then had split up into small groups to do sightseeing.

When we arrived, we noticed four African American protestors who were also on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. I am not sure what they were protesting, and I did not interact with them. I did hear them direct derogatory insults at our school group.

The protestors said hateful things. They called us “racists,” “bigots,” “white crackers,” “faggots,” and “incest kids.” They also taunted an African American student from my school by telling him that we would “harvest his organs.” I have no idea what that insult means, but it was startling to hear.

Because we were being loudly attacked and taunted in public, a student in our group asked one of our teacher chaperones for permission to begin our school spirit chants to counter the hateful things that were being shouted at our group. The chants are commonly used at sporting events. They are all positive in nature and sound like what you would hear at any high school. Our chaperone gave us permission to use our school chants. We would not have done that without obtaining permission from the adults in charge of our group.

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.

After a few minutes of chanting, the Native American protestors, who I hadn’t previously noticed, approached our group. The Native American protestors had drums and were accompanied by at least one person with a camera.

The protestor 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. 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.

I never interacted with this protestor. I did not speak to him. I did not make any hand gestures or other aggressive moves. To be honest, I was startled and confused as to why he had approached me. We had already been yelled at by another group of protestors, and when the second group approached I was worried that a situation was getting out of control where adults were attempting to provoke teenagers.

I believed that by remaining motionless and calm, I was helping to diffuse the situation. I realized everyone had cameras and that perhaps a group of adults was trying to provoke a group of teenagers into a larger conflict. I said a silent prayer that the situation would not get out of hand.

During the period of the drumming, a member of the protestor’s entourage began yelling at a fellow student that we “stole our land” and that we should “go back to Europe.” I heard one of my fellow students begin to respond. I motioned to my classmate and tried to get him to stop engaging with the protestor, as I was still in the mindset that we needed to calm down tensions.

I never felt like I was blocking the Native American protestor. He did not make any attempt to go around me. It was clear to me that he had singled me out for a confrontation, although I am not sure why.

The engagement ended when one of our teachers told me the busses had arrived and it was time to go. I obeyed my teacher and simply walked to the busses. At that moment, I thought I had diffused the situation by remaining calm, and I was thankful nothing physical had occurred.

I never understood why either of the two groups of protestors were engaging with us, or exactly what they were protesting at the Lincoln Memorial. We were simply there to meet a bus, not become central players in a media spectacle. This is the first time in my life I’ve ever encountered any sort of public protest, let alone this kind of confrontation or demonstration.

I was not intentionally making faces at the protestor. 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. 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. …

Read Nick Sandmann’s full statement at CNN.