Updated: Sunday, 8:32 p.m.
Students from a northern Kentucky high school are under fire after video of an interaction with an indigenous person near the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., Friday went viral on social media. It shows an older man singing and playing a drum as a young man stares at him.
The below tweets were the first to go viral, but now appear to have been removed.
Students in the crowd appear to wear apparel from Covington Catholic High School, an all-male Catholic school in Park Hills, Ky. The school's website indicated students had traveled to Washington to take part in anti-abortion demonstrations.
The older man in the video has been identified as Nathan Phillips, Omaha, a Vietnam veteran and former director of the Native Youth Alliance, according to Indian Country Today.
Principal Robert Rowe did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but Diocese Communications Director Laura Keener says in a Saturday afternoon statement, published by several media organizations, "We are just now learning about this incident and regret it took place. We are looking into it."
On Sunday, a second video emerged showing Phillips entering the crowd of students, who were previously engaged with a small group of Black Hebrew Israelites. River City News spoke with Bill Gerdes, a parent of a Covington Catholic student who was on the D.C. trip. "They were calling all the kids at Cov Cath crackers, they were telling the black kid that he needs to get out of the school, and the Cov Cath kids were rallying around (their classmate)," Gerdes told Michael Monks, RCN's editor and publisher and WVXU's new Cincinnati Edition host.
Monks will be on WVXU with News Director Maryanne Zeleznik Monday at 7:45 a.m. and 9:45 a.m. to discuss details of what his local reporting uncovered about the incident.
You can watch the newly emerged video below, though are warned that some of the language is racially charged.
Sunday evening, a representative of the young man who was front and center in the video released a statement on Twitter. In the statement, the young man says he and fellow students were harassed by another group, four African-American protesters, on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. He says to counteract, a classmate asked for and received permission from a chaperone to start a school chant. It was during this chant that "the native American protesters ... approached our group."
With the permission of Nick Sandmann and their parents. This is being released to the media. Please keep this family in your prayers. pic.twitter.com/xO8iI92C6i— Stephanie A. Dietz (@sdietz2) January 20, 2019
The statement continues, "I did not see anyone try to block his path. He locked eyes with me and approached me, coming within inches of my face ... I was not intentionally making faces at the protester. I smiled at one point because I wanted him to know I was not going to become angry."
The statement says he and his family have received threats. Kenton County Prosecutor Rob Sanders weighed in on Twitter as well.
According to the school's website, Covington Catholic is the only all-male high school in Northern Kentucky, and has an enrollment of 586 students. It is an educational institution of the Covington Diocese, something pointed out on Twitter by the Cincinnati Diocese.
Covington Catholic HS is a school of the Diocese of Covington, not @CatholicCincy. From what we know, which is very little, the incident at the March 4 Life was unfortunate & regrettable. We are confident they will respond appropriately 2 make this an important teachable moment.— Archdiocese of Cincinnati (@CatholicCincy) January 19, 2019
The Catholic Conference of Kentucky, which represents the four dioceses in Kentucky in public policy matters, published a statement from the Covington diocese on Saturday:
"We condemn the actions of the Covington Catholic High School students toward 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."