Nicholas Sandmann, the Covington Catholic High School student who was accused of mocking a Native American protester, opened up about the incident in an interview Wednesday on NBC’s “Today.”
Sandmann, in his first public interview since his confrontation with Native American veteran Nathan Phillips, explained how difficult the media attacks have been on him and his family and denied being disrespectful to Phillips.
“Now I wish I would’ve walked away,” Sandmann said of the moment Phillips approached him with a drum. “I didn’t want to be disrespectful to Mr. Phillips and walk away if he was trying to talk to me.”
Regarding the so-called “smirk” on his face, Sandmann explained, “I see it as a smile that says, ‘this is the best you’re going to get out of me. You won’t get any further reaction or aggression and I’m willing to stand here as long as you want to hit this drum in my face.'”
Sandmann also chastised the people who jumped to conclusions about his intentions during the confrontation, asserting that “they’ve had to assume so many things” to label him a racist and someone who is disrespectful to adults.
The young student concluded by thanking Phillips for his military service and inviting him to sit down to have a discussion. He also noted that the backlash against his family has been “terrible” and that they have been dealing with death threats.
The media was quick to attack the Covington Catholic students from Kentucky over the weekend when it appeared they were mocking and taunting Native American protesters while on a class trip in Washington, DC. Full video of the incident revealed that the students were participating in school spirit chants and that Phillips approached the students first. (RELATED: The Real Story About The Catholic School Boys And The Native American Protester)
Phillips repeatedly mischaracterized the event in interviews with the press and even indicated that he might support expulsion for the students he encountered that day. Phillips also admitted that he assigned bad intentions to the students because they had been participating in the March for Life rally against abortion. (RELATED: Nathan Phillips Suggests Expelling Covington Teens)
While Sandmann offered to have a sit-down with Phillips, the Native American protester previously said it is “not the right time” to have a discussion with the students.