Teen in video says he sought to calm tension


    In this Friday, Jan. 18, 2019 image made from video provided by the Survival Media Agency, a teenager wearing a "Make America Great Again" hat, center left, stands in front of an elderly Native American singing and playing a drum in Washington. The Roman Catholic Diocese of Covington in Kentucky is looking into this and other videos that show youths, possibly from the diocese's all-male Covington Catholic High School, mocking Native Americans at a rally in Washington. (Survival Media Agency via AP)

    UPDATE: Sunday 8:45 p.m. EST

    FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - A teen at the center of a video confrontation with a Native American organizer of a march in Washington, D.C., says he did nothing to provoke anyone and sought to calm the situation.

    The student identified himself in an email Sunday evening 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 didn't 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 there began insulting them.

    The Native American, Nathan Phillips, told The Associated Press he approached the Kentucky students to keep the peace between them and the third group of protesters. Videos show Sandmann standing very close to Phillips and staring at him as he sang and played the drum. Other students — some in "Make America Great Again" hats and sweatshirts — were chanting and laughing.

    Sandman says the students began yelling "school spirit chants" to drown out the protesters and he did not hear students chant anything "hateful or racist at any time."

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    UPDATE: Sunday 2:40 p.m. EST

    A Native American organizer of a march in Washington, D.C., says he felt compelled to get between a group of black religious activists and largely white students with his ceremonial drum to defuse a potentially dangerous situation.

    Nathan Phillips on Sunday recounted for The Associated Press how he came to be surrounded by a group of students from a Catholic boys' high school in Kentucky in an encounter captured on videos that are circulating online. Some of the students were wearing "Make America Great Again" hats.

    Phillips was participating in Friday's Indigenous Peoples March. The students had attended the March for Life rally the same day.

    Videos also show members of the activist group yelling insults at the students, who taunt them in return.

    Videos also show students chanting, laughing and jeering as Phillips sings and plays the drum.

    A Kentucky diocese has issued an apology to the Ypsilanti, Michigan, man.

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    Orignial Story:

    FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - A diocese in Kentucky is looking into videos that show youths, possibly from its all-male high school, in a confrontation with Native Americans outside the Lincoln Memorial after a rally in Washington.

    Laura Keener of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Covington said Saturday it regrets the incident and is investigating but didn't comment further.

    The Indigenous Peoples March in Washington on Friday coincided with the March for Life, which drew thousands of anti-abortion protesters, including a group from Covington Catholic High School in Park Hills.

    Videos circulating online show a youth staring at and standing extremely close to an elderly Native American man singing and playing a drum.

    Other youths, some wearing Covington clothing and many wearing "Make America Great Again" hats and sweatshirts, surrounded them, laughing and jeering.

    The man playing the drum was identified by the "Indian Country Today" website as Nathan Phillips, an Omaha elder and Vietnam veteran who holds an annual ceremony honoring Native American veterans at Arlington National Cemetery.

    "When I was there singing, I heard them saying 'Build that wall, build that wall,'" Phillips said, as he wiped away tears in a video posted on Instagram. "This is indigenous lands. We're not supposed to have walls here. We never did."

    He said he wished the group would put their energy into "making this country really great."

    State Rep. Ruth Buffalo, a North Dakota state lawmaker and member of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation, said she was saddened to see students showing disrespect to an elder who is also a U.S. military veteran at what was supposed to be a celebration of all cultures.

    "The behavior shown in that video is just a snapshot of what indigenous people have faced and are continuing to face," Buffalo said.

    She said she hoped it would lead to some kind of meeting with the students to provide education on issues facing Native Americans.

    U.S. Rep. Deb Haaland of New Mexico, who had been at the rally earlier in the day, sharply criticized what she called a display of "blatant hate, disrespect, and intolerance."

    "This Veteran put his life on the line for our country," she tweeted Saturday. "Heartbreaking."

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