Youth in D.C. march video denounces ‘outright lies’ about him

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By Alex Johnson

The young man at the center of what has been described as a hostile confrontation with an Omaha tribal elder last week denounced what he called “outright lies” on Sunday, saying he was actually trying to remain calm to defuse the tense situation.

“I am the student in the video who was confronted by the Native American protestor,” the young man, Nick Sandmann, a junior at Covington Catholic High School in Covington, Kentucky, said in a statement his family issued through a public relations firm.

(Warning: strong language.)

The widely circulated video shows young men, many of them wearing Make America Great Again hats, appearing to surround a Native American troupe as it performs a song about strength and courage at the Indigenous Peoples March in Washington on Friday afternoon.

Sandmann has become the face of the apparent confrontation, smiling silently only a foot or two from the face of Nathan Phillips, a Vietnam War veteran and prominent activist for indigenous people’s causes.

Critics have characterized the young man as smirking and trying to stare down Phillips. But other, longer videos have complicated the narrative, suggesting that there was jeering by a separate group of people before the incident recorded on the most widely circulated video.

Sandmann said Sunday that when his group arrived at the Lincoln Memorial, the site of the Indigenous Peoples March, on Friday, he heard “four African American protestors” who he said directed “derogatory insults at our school group.”

“They also taunted an African American student from my school by telling him that we would ‘harvest his organs,'” Sandmann said. “I have no idea what that insult means, but it was startling to hear.”

Sandmann said that, with the permission of a teacher who was serving as a chaperone, he began leading the group of students in school spirit chants “to counter the hateful things that were being shouted at our group.”

After a few minutes, the native protesters began approaching, he said, “accompanied by at least one person with a camera.”

Referring to Phillips, Sandmann said: “I never interacted with this protestor. I did not speak to him. I did not make any hand gestures or other aggressive moves. To be honest, I was startled and confused as to why he had approached me. We had already been yelled at by another group of protestors, and when the second group approached I was worried that a situation was getting out of control where adults were attempting to provoke teenagers.

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