White Students in MAGA Hats Taunt, Harass Native American Elder and Vietnam Vet [UPDATED]

We may earn a commission from links on this page.

Update, Sunday, 8:50 p.m.: The student pictured in the red hat facing off with Nathan Phillips, Covington Catholic High School junior Nick Sandmann, issued a statement to the Cincinnati Enquirer Sunday night via an attorney and spokesman for his family.

In the statement, Sandmann disputed the characterization that he was taunting Phillips, or anyone else, and says that he is “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.”

Sandmann said he believes other groups were trying to provoke the students, and that he was trying to defuse the situation.


He stated:

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.


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. ...


Sandmann said he did not hear anyone chanting “build the wall” or other racist mantras. “Assertions to the contrary are simply false,” the statement said.

The statement added that Sandmann was “startled and confused” as to why Phillips had approached him.


“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,” he added.

Read the entire statement here.

The Enquirer also compiled a timeline of the day, offering a broader picture. You can read that here.


And here’s a longer video by a member of the Black Hebrew Israelites, the group that was shouting vulgarities at the students and others:

Original post continues here:

The smirk on the face of this white kid with a red MAGA hat, as he taunts a Native American elder singing an intertribal song, is simply unbearable.


The as-of-yet unidentified teenager was part of a group of dozens of red-hat-wearing, pro-Trump students seen on several videos at the Indigenous Peoples March on Friday allegedly harassing Nathan Phillips. Phillips is a Native American elder, Vietnam veteran, and the host of a sacred pipe ceremony in Arlington, VA, according to Indian Country Today’s Vincent Schilling.

Activist Simar Ahluwalia, who uses his Twitter account to call out displays of Trump-inspired racism across the country, said the students are from Covington Catholic High School in Park Hills, KY. The school’s motto is: “Educating Young Men Spiritually, Academically, Physically and Socially.”


I have emailed the school’s principal, Bob Rowe, for comment and will post any updates.

Ahluwalia said a woman at the march counted between 50 and 70 people in the pro-Trump group that confronted Phillips and other Native American demonstrators. Various people in the group appear to be wearing the school’s clothing.


“The group consisted of mostly white men who sought to intimidate, mock, and scare us with a mob mentality in order to silence a demonstration that was mostly concluded,” the woman wrote in one of the tweets. “The group outnumbered us and enclosed our small group, chanting ‘build the wall’ and other trumpisms.”

The woman noted that Phillips “did not break focus” during the ordeal.


After the videos went viral on social media sites, Covington Catholic High School set its Twitter account and website faculty page to private. Its Facebook page appeared to be offline.

However, as Cincinnati.com pointed out, the school promoted on its website a trip to participate in the March for Life, held the same day in Washington.


Rep. Deb Haaland, one of the first Native American women elected to Congress, called the incident “heartbreaking.”


“This Veteran put his life on the line for our country. The students’ display of blatant hate, disrespect, and intolerance is a signal of how common decency has decayed under this administration,” she tweeted.


Schilling noted that in a previous interview with Indian Country Today, Phillips, of the Omaha Nation, spoke of the difficulties he encountered when returning from the Vietnam War. “People called me a baby killer and a hippie girl spit on me,” he said in the interview.

Earlier this week, President Trump joked on Twitter about Wounded Knee, one of the most infamous massacres of Native people in U.S. history.



Update, Saturday, 1:40 p.m.: Phillips later reacted to the confrontation. Good luck keeping your eyes dry while watching his response:

Update, Saturday, 6:30 p.m.: A Diocese of Covington spokesperson has confirmed that the students who taunted Native American elder Nathan Phillips at the Indigenous Peoples March are from Covington Catholic High School. Diocese spokesperson Laura Keener apologized for the students’ behavior and said some of them could be expelled, according to WCPO Cincinnati.


Keener said:

“We condemn the actions of the Covington Catholic High School students towards Nathan Phillips specifically, and Native Americans in general, Jan. 18, after the March for Life, in Washington, D.C. We extend our deepest apologies to Mr. Phillips. 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. We know this incident also has tainted the entire witness of the March for Life and express our most sincere apologies to all those who attended the March and all those who support the pro-life movement.”


Keener confirmed the students were on a field trip to the March for Life in Washington, DC, for which each student paid $130 to attend.

Covington Mayor Joe Meyer responded by publishing an op-ed stating:

Videos of the confrontation are disturbing, discouraging, and - frankly - appalling. And they are rightfully inspiring a tidal wave of condemnation, even on the City of Covington’s own social sites, leaving the impression that these are the values of the City of Covington.

Yes, the ironic thing - as people keep pointing out to me - is that the school isn’t even located within Covington. But that’s not the point.


The entire op-ed is worth a read.