Reports of MAGA hat wearing Catholic school students harassing a Native American veteran on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial took the internet by storm over the weekend, resulting in a wave of outrage over how the elderly man was being treated.
The fact that some of the students were sporting Trump MAGA hats was obviously a driving factor, but as is often the case these days, as more information came to light, there appeared to be much more to the story than initially realized.
The Native American activist was identified online as Nathan Phillips, an Omaha elder, Vietnam Veteran and former director of the Native Youth Alliance, and a video that went viral shows a smirking student wearing a MAGA hat standing in the vet’s face as he was said to be holding a ceremony on the Lincoln Memorial steps.
The students are from Covington Catholic High School in Covington, Ky., and were in Washington for the March for Life, which adds more incentive for the left to pounce, but the Indigenous People’s March was also scheduled for the same day.
And there’s no question that some of the students were being antagonistic.
The incident was picked up on by all the major news outlets, and the student and his classmates are seen mocking and ridiculing Phillips — they were eviscerated online, with the anti-Trump crowd projecting every irrational prejudice they hold against President Donald Trump on these kids.
There were calls to doxx the kids over the incident.
White boys mock Native elder at Indigenous Peoples March. I hope #NativeTwitter can help identify these punks! #indigenouspeoplesmarchhttps://t.co/BGGgs9YyY6
— Matt Remle (@wakiyan7) January 19, 2019
The Diocese of Covington was quick to respond, releasing a statement condemning the kids, according to NBC News.
“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.,” the statement read.
According to the archdiocese, the incident was under investigation and some students could face expulsion for their actions.
The initial impression suggested they were out of line, but additional details and other video clips that slowly emerged put a different perspective on the incident.
Was the antagonistic behavior in response to being confronted by Phillips?
In the video below, it is clear that the elder approached the students, who were said to be in the middle of a school cheer. Phillips can be seen slowly walking right into their midst, singing and banging on a drum.
“Covington Catholic student bothering elder man” yet here is evidence of the man approaching them during their school cheer not disturbing anyone. Doesn’t make sense pic.twitter.com/SRYRJOIoKf
— Maria Judy (@mariajudy_) January 19, 2019
This clip seems to contradict what Phillips told The Washington Post afterwards.
The vet told the newspaper he felt threatened by the students and was “feeling a little bit overwhelmed.”
“It was getting ugly, and I was thinking: ‘I’ve got to find myself an exit out of this situation and finish my song at the Lincoln Memorial,’” he said. “I started going that way, and that guy in the hat stood in my way and we were at an impasse. He just blocked my way and wouldn’t allow me to retreat.”
Another clip shows Phillips holding the drum inches away from the students face as he banged away.
The kids were denounced as a “mob,” even though it appears that Phillip and others with him placed themselves in the middle of the students.
Phillips appeared to expose his real motivation for engaging with the kids during an interview and — surprise — it involves President Trump’s efforts to enhance border security.
“I heard them say, “Build that wall, build that wall,” an emotional Phillips said. “This is indigenous land. We’re not supposed to have a wall here.”
“That energy could be turned into feeding the people, cleaning up our communities and figuring out what else we can do,” he continued. “We need the young people to be doing that instead of saying: ‘These guys are our enemies.’ ”
Marcus Frejo, a member of the Pawnee and Seminole tribes who was with Phillips, had a different version, telling the Associated Press the students were chanting “Make America Great” and doing a mocking version of the haka, the traditional Maori dance.
He also claimed the students were heckling a couple of black men nearby and that he and Phillips went over to defuse the situation — video does not support his version.
Turns out, Phillips is “a well-known Native American activist who was among those leading the Standing Rock protests in 2016-2017 against the construction of an oil pipeline in North Dakota,” The Guardian reported.
And this was not his first encounter with students.
In 2015, Phillips reportedly confronted Eastern Michigan University students at a themed party were some were dressed as Native Americans.
Déjà vu 2015
Native American claims racial harassment by EMU students dressed as indians https://t.co/yPZpZAIWyv
— ??RUSHian MAGA Dittos Patriot ⚓️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (@PatriotCzar) January 20, 2019
I just watched the unedited video of the high school kids at the March – they did nothing wrong, and I correct an earlier tweet
The left intentionally misreported the facts (typical) to destroy these kids lives to blame it on Trump
Media made this a top story to wreck lives
— Charlie Kirk (@charliekirk11) January 20, 2019
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