A group of teenagers wearing ‘Make America Great Again’ have been accused of taunting a Native American man. See the video and angry Twitter responses.
UPDATE Feb. 5: It is not audible on the video that the boys were chanting “build that wall”, which was reported by Nathan Phillips in an interview conducted after the confrontation and denied by Nick Sandmann in a public statement.
UPDATE Jan. 23: In an earlier Washington Post report Nathan Phillips was described as a “Vietnam vet.” However, the newspaper has now corrected that account and noted that he served in the Marine Corps Reserve from 1972 to 1976 and not Vietnam.
UPDATE Jan. 22: Nick Sandmann, the high school junior pictured in the video released this statement to CNN: “I was not intentionally making faces at the protester. 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.” He noted that longer clips that have appeared online “show a much different story than is being portrayed by people with agendas.” Nick added, “I am mortified that so many people have come to believe something that did not happen — that students from my school were chanting or acting in a racist fashion toward African-Americans or Native Americans. I did not do that, do not have hateful feelings in my heart, and did not witness any of my classmates doing that.”
UPDATE Jan. 20: A GoFundMe page benefitting American Indian College has been started in honor of Nathan Phillips. As of Jan. 20, more than $11,000 has been raised out of the $100,000 goal. Additionally, the boy in the video’s mother e-mailed Heavy with unsubstantiated claims that “black Muslims” were yelling “profanities” and that “this man” (Nathan Phillips – she did not name him) “came up to this one boy and drummed in his face.”
UPDATE Jan. 19: Covington Catholic High School and the Diocese of Covington released the following joint statement: “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.”
ORIGINAL: On Jan. 18 at the Indigenous People’s March in Washington, D.C., a group of Catholic white teen boys cheered on one of their peers who was wearing a Make American Great Again hat while he stood in front of a Native American man, Nathan Phillips, smirking, according to a video that has quickly gone. Members of the crowd also reportedly chanted “build that wall,” reports USA Today. However, information that Nick Sandmann and the other boys were chanting ‘build that wall’ was reported by Nathan Phillips during an interview after the confrontation at the Lincoln Memorial, but has not been confirmed.
The teen boys in their uniform of red hats also surrounded the man in a circle, making noise. Twitter erupted with people getting angry about the scene that unfolded and jumping to the conclusion that the boys were at fault. “MAGA-hatted teens screaming ‘Build a wall’ to Native Americans tells me their school history program failed them somewhere,” Twitter user EllisRomance wrote. “Oh, and your parents should be ashamed.”
The Native American elder who was taunted, Nathan Philips of the Omaha Nation, talks about what happened through tears. He is a Vietnam vet.
Hurting each other like this does not make America great.
— laney (@misslaneym) January 19, 2019
“Why is everyone making such a big deal about these MAGA kids mocking and harassing a Vietnam veteran, it’s not like they did something truly unforgivable like take a knee,” writer Matt Oswalt tweeted.
Other people noted that this kind of behavior was unfortunately familiar to them. “The look on this sh*thead teen face’s is one people of color who went to high school in this country know VERY well and I promise you this isn’t the first or last person he’s made miserable,” Editor-in-Chief of Splinter News Aleksander Chan noted on Twitter.
But Nathan took it with grace, later making a speech in front of a crowd responding to what had just happened. “This is indigenous lands,” he said. “We’re not supposed to have walls here. We never did, for millennium. Before anybody else came here, we never had walls. We never had a prison. We always took good care of our elders, took care of our children, provided for them. We taught them right from wrong.”
He then said he wished the group of teens could “put that energy into making this country really great, helping those that are hungry.”