Video shows teenagers in 'MAGA' hats mocking and harassing Native American protestors at Indigenous Peoples March

  • A large group of high school students was recorded confronting a group of Native American protestors at Friday’s Indigenous Peoples March.
  • The group appeared to be mostly boys wearing “Make America Great Again” hats and appeared to be high school students who had attended the March for Life earlier that day.
  • Several videos posted to social media show a grinning boy standing in the way of a protestor, who was later reported to be a Vietnam War veteran.
  • Officials from Covington Catholic High School later condemned the group’s actions as March for Life leadership distanced itself from the school’s participation in the march.

A recording that shows a group of high school students mocking Native American protestors at Friday’s Indigenous Peoples March sparked outcries on social media

A large group of mostly boys wearing “Make America Great Again” hats were recorded surrounding a small group of protestors in front of the Lincoln memorial.

In several videos posted to social media, a grinning boy stands face-to-face with a protestor as the large group shrieks, jeers, and claps along with the protestors’ drum.

The group was identified by several Twitter users who posted videos as Covington Catholic High School students who had traveled from Kentucky to attend the March for Life, an annual anti-abortion demonstration.

School and diocese officials released statements the next day condemning the group’s actions and saying the incident was under investigation and students could face potential expulsion.

“We condemn the actions of the Covington Catholic High School students towards Nathan Phillips specifically, and Native Americans in general, Jan. 18, after the March for Life, in Washington, D.C.,” the archdiocese said in a statement reported by NBC News. “We extend our deepest apologies to Mr. Phillips. This behavior is opposed to the Church’s teachings on the dignity and respect of the human person.”

As the videos spread, the school’s social media accounts were locked down and calls to the school’s main phone number were met with a busy tone.

The main protestor captured in videos of the confrontation was later reported by Indian Country Today to be a Vietnam War veteran named Nathan Phillips.

The report also notes Phillips is an Omaha elder, keeper of a sacred pipe, and holds an annual ceremony honoring Native American veterans in the Arlington National Cemetery.

Phillips was notably in another confrontation with Eastern Michigan University students who were dressed as Native Americans for a themed party in April 2015. A Fox2 report of the incident said when Phillips saw the party of 30 or 40 students, they hurled racial insults and threw beer cans at him.

In a video that circulated social media Saturday afternoon, Phillips tearfully recalled the incident, saying he heard people around him chanting “build that wall,” and said he wished that the man who had confronted him would “put that energy into making this country really great.”

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Darren Thompson, an organizer for the Indigenous Peoples Movement, the group that sponsors the march, condemned the confrontation in a statement, saying it was a sign of the times in “Trump’s America.”

“What we saw yesterday, the display surrounding Mr. Phillips, is emblematic of the state of our discourse in Trump’s America,” Thompson said. “It clearly demonstrates the validity of our concerns about the marginalization and disrespect of Indigenous peoples, and it shows that traditional knowledge is being ignored by those who should listen most closely.”

Videos of Friday’s incident sparked sharp backlash on social media, with one user tweeting at Father Michael Hennigan of the Covington Diocese.

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Users noted the many boys wearing “Make America Great Again” hats.

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New Mexico Congresswoman Deb Haaland, who is Native American, said the “display of blatant hate, disrespect, and intolerance,” particularly against an American veteran was “heartbreaking.”

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The group had apparently attended the March for Life on the National Mall earlier in the day. The school’s website lists the March for Life as a “travel opportunity” and a video posted to Facebook by Kentucky Congressman Thomas Massie shows the group on the stairs of the Capitol Friday.

The incident comes a week after President Donald Trump sparked outrage when he referenced the Wounded Knee massacre to mock Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who has been criticized for releasing results to a DNA test to support her past claims that she has Native American heritage.

“If Elizabeth Warren, often referred to by me as Pocahontas, did this commercial from Bighorn or Wounded Knee instead of her kitchen, with her husband dressed in full Indian garb, it would have been a smash!” Trump tweeted, mocking a video Warren posted on social media.

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