African Americans voiced disgust and anger over a video that went viral on Saturday showing a mob of white teens, many of them proudly wearing Trump Make America Great Again (MAGA) caps, mocking a Native-American man.
The incident happened Friday toward the end of the Indigenous Peoples March near the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., according to the Washington Post.
A group of boys surrounded a Native-American man who was beating a drum while singing the American Indian Movement song that’s used in a ceremony to send the spirits home.
The teenagers wore MAGA caps, which is popular among President Donald Trump’s supporters. “Make America Great Again” was the president’s 2016 campaign slogan, which connected with the goals and vision of white supremacists.
One of the teenagers with a smirk on his face stood in front of the drummer as his classmates cheered him on.
The Native-American man was identified as Nathan Phillips. He’s a 64-year-old Vietnam veteran. Phillips said in interviews after the incident that he felt threatened by the teenagers who reportedly showed up at the Indigenous Peoples March after attending the anti-abortion March for Life rally. Some participants at the anti-abortion rally chanted, “Build that wall, build that wall,” a reference to Trump’s political struggle against Democrats in Congress who oppose his plan to build a barrier along the United States’ border with Mexico.
“It was getting ugly, and I was thinking: ‘I’ve got to find myself an exit out of this situation and finish my song at the Lincoln Memorial.’ I started going that way, and that guy in the hat stood in my way and we were at an impasse. He just blocked my way and wouldn’t allow me to retreat,” Phillips said.
The teenagers were identified as students from Covington Catholic High School in Park Hills, Kentucky, which sent them to the nation’s capital to march in the anti-abortion rally.
“We condemn the actions of the Covington Catholic High School students towards Nathan Phillips specifically, and Native Americans in general,” said a statement released on Saturday from school officials and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Covington. “The matter is being investigated and we will take appropriate action, up to and including expulsion.”
Many African Americans who commented on the encounter said this incident was clearly racist, and they blamed Trump for creating an environment where white supremacists feel free to express their hate.
What the white hood was in 1869, the red #MAGA hat is in 2019—Klan fashion for today’s youth.— Cornell William Brooks (@CornellWBrooks) January 20, 2019
My Catholic school punished kids for disrespecting the nuns,
what do you do now when kids DISRESPECT #NativeAmericans & the NATION
—TEACH, DISCIPLINE & LOVE them.
This is another sad legacy of the Trump era. His rhetoric and policies have only emboldened unacceptable behavior against minorities and women. pic.twitter.com/69DCES9H2V— The Black Caucus (@TheBlackCaucus) January 20, 2019
The MAGA-hat wearing Covington Catholic High School students mocking Elder Nathan Phillips at the Indigenous Peoples March in Washington are direct descendants of the white privilege that empowered white kids to mock Elizabeth Eckford at Little Rock Central High School in 1957. pic.twitter.com/tQroBf6aPb— Keith Boykin (@keithboykin) January 19, 2019
Generations of hatred, entitlement and white supremacy is being pumped into these kids veins daily!— S. Lee Merritt, Esq. (@MeritLaw) January 20, 2019
Do you know the importance of raising our children to proud, intelligent & conscious. They have a helluva fight on their hands. We are giving them a world worse than we inherited. https://t.co/nJvNscAyEY
This shameful behavior is a direct consequence of individual-1's dehumanizing rhetoric and actions towards communities of color. Do better! https://t.co/dyEejlA00J— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) January 19, 2019
The video of the MAGA kids harassing an indigenous veteran further demonstrate the consequences of having public displays of racism & bigotry sanctioned by the most powerful person in the country. It should disabuse ppl of the notion that such public racism will simply “die out.”— Clint Smith (@ClintSmithIII) January 19, 2019
Thank you to @VinceSchilling of @IndianCountry and many others who identified the proud Native man who is being harassed. He is Mr. Nathan Phillips. I’m reposting this video from “ka_ya11” on IG. This man’s words pierce my heart. The grace. The wisdom. The hope. pic.twitter.com/BKOA40SVq5— Ava DuVernay (@ava) January 19, 2019
More from the disguising scene today at the Lincoln Memocrial by these kids wearing #MAGA hats and shirts. The damage that Donald Trump is doing, the hate that he has tapped into will have a long lasting effect. https://t.co/XfZCAFKnCF— Karine Jean-Pierre (@K_JeanPierre) January 19, 2019
Many of the students who sought to harass and intimidate Nathan Phillips attend Covington Catholic HS in KY.— Kristen Clarke (@KristenClarkeJD) January 19, 2019
The Principal is Bob Rowe. Per school's website, his email address is: firstname.lastname@example.org
Send him a message this #MLK weekend about his students' racist and vile conduct https://t.co/RFm6QZazsC
I stand with #NathanPhillips, Elder of the Omaha Nation.— Jonathan Capehart (@CapehartJ) January 19, 2019