Two days after his image went viral, Nick Sandmann gave a statement explaining what transpired as he and his classmates waited for a bus near the Lincoln Memorial, ready to return home after attending the annual March for Life.
Known simply as one of the “MAGA hat kids” on social media, Sandmann, who is a junior at Covington Catholic High School, said he was the student who was approached by Native American elder Nathan Phillips. He also said, “it was clear to me that he had singled me out for a confrontation, although I am not sure why.”
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
In his lengthy statement, Sandmann made several points that appear to be confirmed by the numerous videos and reports that have come out since the initial viral videos, which purported to show a group of students “mocking” Phillips. (RELATED: The Real Story Behind The Catholic School Boys And Their Dust Up With A Native American Veteran)
First, Sandmann mentioned the nearby group of Black Hebrew Israelites — who have been largely omitted from the media narrative and who shouted verbal attacks at both the gathered Native Americans and the Catholic students for the better part of two hours.
The protestors[sic] 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 they would “harvest his organs.”
Video confirms that these insults — and many others — were directed at the students.
Second, Sandmann claimed that Phillips, along with several other Native American protesters, approached them. That claim is also confirmed by video from multiple angles despite the initial media narrative painting the Covington students as the aggressors who approached the group of Native Americans and surrounded them.
The protestor[sic] everyone has seen in the video began playing his drum as he waded into the crowd, which parted for him. I did not see anyone try to block his path. He locked eyes with me and approached me, coming within inches of my face.
Sandmann went on to explain that, after the barrage of verbal attacks coming from the first group, he felt that the best thing he could do is remain calm and silent and not make any threatening moves.
I believed that by remaining motionless and calm I was helping to diffuse[sic] 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.
The confrontation ended peacefully, Sandmann said, when the buses arrived and the students left. But once the story started making the rounds on social media death threats were sent to both he and his parents, Sandmann said. One person even threatened to harm him at school.
Still, Sandmann said he respects Phillips’ right to free speech and to protest on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. Although, he added, “I believe he should rethink his tactics of invading the personal space of others, but that is his choice to make.”
I have read that Mr. Phillips is a veteran of the United States Marines. I thank him for his service and am grateful to anyone who puts on the uniform to defend our nation. If anyone has earned the right to speak freely, it is a U.S. Marine veteran.
Sandmann concluded by warning against making snap judgments and asking people to watch the full videos before drawing conclusions about what took place, and added that he was ready an willing to cooperate with any investigation into the incident.