Controversy Erupts at Lincoln Memorial

Photo Credit: NY Times

Photo Credit: NY Times

Brandon Barr, Sports Editor

As with any situation, there are two completely different views regarding what happened at the Lincoln Memorial last week. A video was surfaced which showed a boy wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat, almost smirking while staring down a Native American man playing a drum in front of the boy. The boy is Nick Sandmann, a junior at Covington Catholic High School in Kentucky and the Native American man is Nathan Phillips.

According to Sandmann, the incident did not start with him “harassing” the Native American man, he says that it started with him and his fellow students being attacked by a group of Black Hebrew Israelites. In an interview with CNN, Sandmann says,  “They called us “racists,” “bigots,” “white crackers,” “faggots,” and “incest kids.” He also says that one of his classmates asked a chaperone if they could do their school chant to counter what the people were saying. The chaperone reportedly gave them permission. He further claims that within a few minutes of chanting, that’s when he was approached by the Native American Group. While Phillips was playing in front of his face, the protesters kept saying things and, “I heard one of my fellow students begin to respond. I motioned to my classmate and tried to get him to stop engaging with the protester.” Sandmann claims that he was trying to prevent the situation from getting even worse. Sandmann says, “I did smile at one point because I wanted him to know that I was not going to become angry, or intimidated.”

However Nathan Phillips has a different view on the situation. “We were finishing up with Indigenous Peoples March and rally and there were some folks there that were expressing their (First Amendment) rights there, freedom of speech. … Then there was this young group of young students that came there and were offended by their speech, and it escalated into an ugly situation that I found myself in the middle of.” Phillips states that he was trying to stay in between the two groups and hitting the drum was just spur of the moment. Phillips claims that, “[the students]had one point of view, it seemed, and that was that their point of view was the only point of view that was worthwhile.” When he was in front of the student he says that he needed a way to get out, but the student in front of him, (Sandmann) would not move. When asked about the crowd of people around them Phillips says, “Why did they need 200 people there other than it’s hate and racism?”

Both sides believe that they were just trying to deescalate the situation.