The MAGA hat-wearing 16-year-old high school student who went viral after a video showed him smirking at a Native American activist Nathan Phillips earlier this year in Washington, D.C., just learned his white privilege will not win him everything. His $250 million lawsuit again The Washington Post has been dismissed.
According to the Cincinnati Inquirer, U.S. District Judge William Bertelsman dismissed the lawsuit yesterday.
Sandmann’s federal lawsuit against The Washington Post was seeking $250 million in damages and alleging the famed news outlet “targeted and bullied” the Kentucky teenager in order to embarrass Trump. The lawsuit pointed to seven defamatory articles published by the newspaper as evidence.
However, Bertelsman wrote in his ruling, “He [Phillips] concluded that he was being blocked and not allowed to retreat. He passed these conclusions on to The Post. They may have been erroneous, but, as discussed above, they are opinion protected by the First Amendment.”
The Washington Post said in a statement about the ruling, “From our first story on this incident to our last, we sought to report fairly and accurately the facts that could be established from available evidence, the perspectives of all of the participants, and the comments of the responsible church and school officials.”
Sandmann and his classmates were on a school-sponsored trip to the nation’s capital when Sandmann confronted Phillips on Jan. 18 at the Indigenous People’s March. The teens, most of them wearing MAGA hats, were shown in the video gathering around Phillips like a mob, mocking his religious chants and yelling at the elderly Native American man.
The teens were widely condemned after the incident. However, a public relations firm hired to quiet the storm went on a media blitz to claim that the students were the victims of racism from a group of Black Hebrew Israelites who allegedly yelled racist slurs at the white teenagers.
After initially apologizing for Sandmann and his classmates’ behavior, the Covington Diocese in Kentucky reversed course and defended the students. The diocese hired a private firm to investigate the incident. To no one’s surprise, the company issued a report on Feb. 13 that cleared the students of racist behavior.
Sandmann’s family plans to appeal the judge’s ruling.