Tue, Jan 22, 2019 - Page 7 News List

Teen in video confrontation defends actions

AP, FRANKFORT, Kentucky

The flag-draped coffin of Iraqi archeologist Lamia al-Gailani, pictured in the poster, passes in front of the National Museum of Iraq in Baghdad during her funeral procession yesterday.

Photo: AP

A teen at the center of a video confrontation with a Native American organizer of a march in Washington says he did nothing to provoke anyone and sought to calm the situation.

The student on Sunday evening identified himself in an e-mail as junior Nick Sandmann of Covington Catholic High School in Kentucky.

An official working with the family confirmed Sandmann’s identity, speaking on condition of anonymity because the source did not want to distract from the teen’s statement.

Sandmann says students were waiting at the Lincoln Memorial for buses to return to Kentucky on Friday when four African-American protesters began insulting them.

“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,” wrote Sandmann, who added that he and his parents have received death threats since video of Friday’s confrontation emerged.

Both Sandmann and Nathan Phillips, a Native American organizer of Friday’s Indigenous Peoples March, say they were trying to defuse tensions that were rising among three groups on a day Washington also hosted the March for Life.

Phillips said he felt compelled to get between a group of black religious activists that appeared to be affiliated with the Black Hebrew Israelite movement and largely white students with his ceremonial drum to defuse a potentially dangerous situation.

However, video of Sandmann standing very close to Phillips, staring and at times smiling at him as Phillips sang and played a drum, gave many who watched it a different impression.

Other students — some wearing “Make America Great Again” hats and sweatshirts — were chanting and appeared to be laughing at the drummer; and at least one could be seen on video doing a tomahawk chop.

Sandmann wrote that the students were called “racists,” “bigots,” “white crackers” and “`incest kids” by the third group.

He said a teacher chaperone gave the students permission to begin their school chants “to counter the hateful things that were being shouted at our group” and he did not hear students chant anything “hateful or racist at any time.”

He wrote that he “believed that by remaining motionless and calm, I was helping defuse the situation.”

“I said a silent prayer that the situation would not get out of hand,” he wrote.

He said he had never encountered any kind of public protest before.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Covington and Covington Catholic High School have apologized and said they are investigating and would take “appropriate action, up to and including expulsion.”

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