One Viral Video Stirs a National Controversy


The infamous video of Nick Sandmann, a white teenager, allegedly harassing a Native American elder, Nathan Phillips, has become one of the most politically enraging images a month into 2019.

In the clip, an elderly Native American man is seen beating a drum and singing with a small group of activists and allies. A foot-and-a-half away from him stands a Covington Catholic High School student, seemingly taunting him. He makes eye contact and smirks at the man. A large group of mostly male, mostly white, MAGA-hat-wearing teenagers holler with vulgar language. The boys seem to know they are being recorded, with a slew of them even capturing it themselves. Sandmann’s face is smug and chilly. It is easy to tell that he thinks he’s untouchable. His face remains nearly completely still as his peers howl in support.

Phillips is a former Marine Corps Reserve member. He was attending the Indigenous Peoples Rally along with many others. Sandmann was simultaneously attending the March for Life, a protest against the legalization of abortions, with his all-boys college preparatory school in northern Kentucky.

When an Adams student, who wished to stay unnamed, was asked whether Nick Sandmann was in the wrong, they replied, “Of course not. He was the one being targeted in this situation. The old man came up to him and started banging that big ol’ thing. [Sandmann] had every right to do what he did. [Sandmann] was the one who was targeted. The Indian guy purposely came up to [Sandmann] to get a reaction out of him.”

Another student, sophomore Audrey Engel believes that “He should not have done that. It was disrespectful, uncalled for. The way [the students] handled it was wrong. ”

Covington Catholic High School has come into fire as more controversy is surfacing. Covington Catholic has also been accused of using blackface during sporting events. Photos show students yelling and taunting an African-American player on the opposing team as he participates in a basketball game while wearing black paint all over their bodies.

Whether Sandmann or Phillips was in the wrong, it is clear that this video has divided the country.