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.