The Catholic high school student whose filmed confrontation with an elderly Native American man went viral said Sunday that he had been unfairly represented in the video.
In a letter to CNN, Covington Catholic High School student Nick Sandmann claimed that “outright lies” and “misinformation” have falsely colored reports about his Friday altercation with Nathan Phillips, an Omaha elder, at the first annual Indigenous Peoples March in Washington, D.C.
The video, which was widely circulated on social media, showed a crush of male teenagers in red Make America Great Again hats and Covington apparel circling and jeering at Phillips. Sandmann stands in the center of the crowd smirking and appears to block the older man’s path.
The incident was criticized by Democratic lawmakers and by the Diocese of Covington, which promised to investigate and “take appropriate action” against the students.
In his letter, Sandmann said that he and his friends were approached by a group of Native American protesters and that he was “singled out” by Phillips.
“He locked eyes with me and approached me, coming within inches of my face,” Sandmann said. “He played his drum the entire time he was in my face.”
“I am being called every name in the book, including a racist, and I will not stand for this moblike character assassination of my family’s name,” Sandmann wrote.
The smile on his face was intended, Sandmann said, to let Phillips know “that I was not going to become angry, intimidated or be provoked into a larger confrontation.”
Sandmann claimed that the altercation started when a group of African-American protesters began heckling the teens for their “racist” MAGA hats.
According to CNN, another video that circulated Sunday showed members of the Black Hebrew Israelite movement mocking the teens, who were visiting from Kentucky for the March for Life. Some of the men can be heard calling the students “crackers” and “incest children.”
CNN’s Jake Tapper shared Sandmann’s full letter on Twitter.
Just in: Statement of Nick Sandmann, Covington Catholic High School junior, about the event at the Lincoln Memorial: pic.twitter.com/PkuMh2cVZM
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) January 20, 2019