- A Kentucky public-relations firm was reportedly behind the statement from the high schooler at the center of a confrontation with a Native American protester at a Washington, DC, march.
- The Louisville Courier Journal reported that RunSwitch PR was behind the statement from Nick Sandmann, who said he was compelled to speak out to “correct misinformation and outright lies” that he had seen in the wake of the incident going viral.
- The statement was central to the viral incident’s changing narrative, which prompted apologies and revised statements from outlets and social-media users after extended video footage was released.
- Nathan Phillips, the Native American demonstrator, dismissed Sandmann’s statement on Tuesday as unabashed and partially false and offered to visit Covington Catholic High School.
A video of a confrontation between high-school junior Nick Sandmann and Native American protester Nathan Phillips at the Indigenous Peoples March went viral last week and was promptly condemned by many on social media as a racist incident.
In the days following the video’s rise on social media, extended footage and statements from Sandmann and Phillips revealed that another group had been harassing the students, which Sandmann said caused him to approach Phillips and “diffuse the situation.”
Sandmann reportedly worked with RunSwitch PR before releasing the statement to “correct misinformation and outright lies.”
When the Courier Journal asked the firm about its role, RunSwitch said in a statement it “has been retained by the Sandmann family to offer professional counsel with what has become a national media story.”
“We are working with the family to ensure an accurate recounting of events which occurred this past weekend,” the statement continued.
RunSwitch PR did not immediately return INSIDER’s request for comment.
School and diocese officials issued a statement of their own over the weekend condemning the group’s actions and saying that the incident is under investigation and that students could face expulsion.
In a Tuesday statement, Phillips said he would be willing to meet with the students as a representative of the Indigenous Peoples March and dismissed Sandmann’s statement as unabashed and partially false.
“I have read the statement from Nick Sandmann, the student who stared at me for a long time. He did not apologise, and I believe there are intentional falsehoods in his testimony,” Phillips said. “But I have faith that human beings can use a moment like this to find a way to gain understanding from one another.”
What Sandmann said in the statement
In the video of the incident that first circulated on social media, a grinning Sandmann is shown in a “Make America Great Again” hat standing inches away from Phillips. The students around Sandmann were chanting and dancing along with the songs Phillips and surrounding protesters were singing and drumming.
In the statement, Sandmann said he decided to remain “motionless and calm,” in an attempt to “diffuse the situation.”
“I realised everyone had cameras and that perhaps a group of adults was trying to provoke a group of teenagers into a larger conflict,” the statement read. “I said a silent prayer that the situation would not get out of hand.”
Regarding his facial expressions, Sandmann said he “was not intentionally making faces at the protestor,” but “did smile at one point because I wanted him to know that I was not going to become angry, intimidated or be provoked into a larger confrontation.”
In a general rebuke of all the allegations that have been leveled against him by people who have seen the original clip, Sandmann said they don’t reflect his personal character.
“I am a faithful Christian and practicing Catholic, and I always try to live up to the ideals my faith teaches me – to remain respectful of others, and to take no action that would lead to conflict or violence,” the statement read.
Phillips offered to visit Covington Catholic High School in Kentucky to “have a dialog about cultural appropriation, racism, and the importance of listening to and respecting diverse cultures.”
- Read more:
- Video shows teenagers in ‘MAGA’ hats in a confrontation with Native American protesters at Indigenous Peoples March
- The school at the center of the controversy surrounding the viral video of a confrontation between students and a Native American protester closed Tuesday over safety concerns and threats
- People have accused Covington Catholic students of wearing blackface at a 2012 basketball game, but alumni say it was an innocent ‘blackout’ cheer theme
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