On January 18, 2019, controversy caught attention nationwide when students from an all-boys high-school in Kentucky, Covington Catholic, and a group of Native Americans, supporting the Indigenous People’s March, seemingly clashed interests as the met outside the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. As student, Nick Sandmann, stood in front of Native American activist and Marine Corps veteran, Nathan Phillips, surrounding individuals captured many clips that seemed to allow America to quickly take sides and make judgements.
At that time, the students of Covington Catholic were touring the nation’s capital, while also attending the March for Life, a protest against the pro-choice movement. Nathan Phillips lead a group in support of the Native Americans. Along with these two separate groups, consisted of a group of Black Hebrew Israelites supporting black supremacy.
A viral 3-minute, 44-second clip that shows the teenagers – several of them wearing “Make America Great Again” hats – laughing, hooting and hollering while surrounding Phillips drew widespread criticism. Here, featured the footage that the press originally released that quickly sparked biased remarks.
The longer version of the incident, a one-hour and 46-minute video, is more complex, and now that it has surfaced, the rush to judge the teenagers went under attack.
After receiving death-threats from strangers, Sandmann decided to voice his view on NBC News.
“I believed that by remaining motionless and calm, I was helping to defuse the situation,” said Sandmann. “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 am being called every name in the book, including racist, and I will not stand for this mob-like character assassination of my family’s name,” said Sandmann.
According to USA Today, the events on January 18 were fully filmed by the Black Hebrew Israelites and recorded the whole scenario, explaining the eventful situation.
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.
When the student party later arrived, the speaker launches into an attack on Catholics and against President Donald Trump. He also called the mainly white students “crackers” and other prejudice names.
Eventually, the teenagers engage, with one of them taking his shirt off and leading the rest in a 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, 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.’’
In the video, the Black Hebrew Israelites comment on how Phillips deescalated the situation but also remark that he’s getting taunted.
Later, the dueling groups get physically closer, though at no point does a physical encounter develop.
Nathan Phillips commented on how he felt during the altercation.
“There was that moment when I realized I’ve put myself between beast and prey,” said Phillips. “These young men were beastly and these old black individuals was their prey, and I stood in between them and so they needed their pounds of flesh and they were looking at me for that.”
“It was ugly, what these kids were involved in,” said Phillips. “It was racism. It was hatred. It was scary.”
Events Supported by USA Today