A student from Covington Catholic High School stands in front of Native American Vietnam veteran Nathan Phillips
The MAGA hat wearing teenager who went viral after a stand-off with a Native American man has spoken out.
The boy, Nick Sandmann, said he believed “that by remaining motionless and calm, I was helping to diffuse the situation".
He was filmed appearing to smirk as he stared down Nathan Phillips at the Indigenous Peoples March in Washington.
Sandmann and other high school students also wearing pro-Trump hats, who had just attended the annual anti-abortion rally March for Life, surrounded the Native American man and chanted as he sang and played a drum.
Here’s the original video that went viral:
Now, Sandmann is defending himself and shifting the blame, saying the group were responding to four African-American protestors, identified as Black Hebrew Israelites, who were shouting “hateful things” at them.
Because we were being loudly attacked and taunted in public, a student in our group asked one of our teacher chaperones for permission to begin our school spirit chants to counter the hateful things that were being shouted at our group.
At no time did I hear any student chant anything other than the school spirit chants. I did not witness or hear any students chant 'build that wall' or anything hateful or racist at any time…
Our chants were loud because we wanted to drown out the hateful comments that were being shouted at us by the protestors.
In an emailed statement Sandmann also claimed that he does not have "hateful feelings in [his] heart", reports the New York Post.
I am being called every name in the book, including a racist… I have received physical and death threats via social media, as well as hateful insults.
One person threatened to harm me at school, and one person claims to live in my neighborhood. My parents are receiving death and professional threats because of the social media mob that has formed over this issue.
I am mortified that so many people have come to believe something that did not happen - that students from my school were chanting or acting in a racist fashion toward African Americans or Native Americans. I did not do that, do not have hateful feelings in my heart, and did not witness any of my classmates doing that.
Sandmann’s defence followed an email by his mother, in which she said “black Muslims” were to blame for the confrontation.
Phillips agreed the students weren’t originally aggressive towards him and their focus was on the African-American protesters.
He said he walked in between the two groups to calm the situation and the students surrounded him.
Sandmann claimed he was "startled and confused" when Phillips approached him and suggested the Native American man and other protesters were trying to provoke the students.
We had already been yelled at by another group of protestors, and when the second group approached I was worried that a situation was getting out of control where adults were attempting to provoke teenagers.
This is how Phillips described the stand-off over the weekend:
The Native American who apparently was being mocked by teens wearing MAGA hats in a viral video says he has "fear f… https://t.co/NhFkCm8oef