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Covington Catholic Controversy

Morgan Renneisen, Website Editor

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Over the past few weeks many people have been bashed for the events involving Covington Catholic students.

On Jan. 22, a group of Covington Catholic students attended the March for Life anti-abortion parade. Nathan Phillips, a Native American Vietnam veteran, was also attending this event, where he was playing his drum and singing Native American songs. Covington Catholic student Nick Sandmann was caught in the middle of the debacle.

The Covington Catholic students were attending the March for Life anti-abortion parade when they were directly involved in controversy with a Native American veteran. Student Nick Sandmann stood in front of Phillips while Phillips played the drum along with singing a song. This event was recorded and posted to social media where it immediately went viral. Many people had their own opinions about the meeting of the two as well as their own views on who was in the wrong.

Media bias has also been a huge aspect of this event as many different news sites have reported the incident. Some people believe that Phillips is in the wrong and others believe that Sandmann is at fault. Because of the difference in opinions, many people have taken it upon themselves to post to social media what they believe actually happened. There are many ways to look at the situation and all of the facts might not be known. It is important to see the event from both sides and take into consideration the intentions of both parties.

In an interview with the Today Show, Sandmann had the opportunity to tell his side of the story along with his experience while attending the parade. There were many different groups of people at the parade who were expressing their opinions and protesting for their rights. According to Sandmann, the Hebrew Israelites were giving the Covington Catholic students a hard time. It is said that the Hebrew Israelites were yelling homophobic slurs at the students, as well as calling them “inscest babies.” Sandmann stated that eventually the chaperones gave the students permission to yell school chants and cheers.

Eventually Phillips began walking through the crowd of people, supposedly he was trying to get to the Lincoln Memorial. When he reached the Covington Catholic students, Phillips believed that they were in his walking path, essentially preventing him from reaching his destination. The student in the middle of all of the controversy, literally and figuratively, was Sandmann. Sandmann stood face to face with Phillips while he was playing his drum and singing. As all of this was happening, Sandmann was wearing a soft smile, which was eventually interpreted in many different ways by the media when the event went viral. Many people believe that Sandmann’s smile was a “smirk” and that by doing that he was disrespecting the Native American culture. Sandmann said that he was just trying to diffuse the situation and did not want to be disrespectful to Phillips.

Even though Sandmann’s smile was up to interpretation, in the midst of the controversy, President Trump took to twitter and stated that the Covington Catholic students were treated unfairly.

Nathan Phillips also had the chance to sit down with the people of the Today Show and tell his story from his perspective. He told the show that he believes that Sandmann’s interview was coached and written up for him. Phillips stated that he heard people in the crowd shouting “build that wall” at him and other Native Americans. Phillips believes that he was blocked by Sandmann and other students and that the teachers and chaperones should have controlled the situation so that it did not spiral to the extreme that it did. The students continued shouting school chants as Phillips walked up to Sandmann which caused the situation to be hectic and chaotic.

In hindsight, it is still not clear exactly why this incident happened or whose fault it was. At the end of the day, both parties were standing up for what they believed in; after all, the two were at a protest. Although what happened is a little out of the ordinary for this type of event, I think that both parties were in the wrong. Sandmann should not have smirked at Phillips, even if he was just trying to “diffuse the situation.” For all of the people who are rightfully defending Sandmann and his actions and saying that he is just a teenager and doesn’t know any better, it is kind of hard to draw the line there. Even though he is a teenager and very young, he is still old enough to know right from wrong. He should have known that smirking at a Native American had the possibility of being taken by many people as showing disrespect, even if that is not what he meant by the action.

At the same time, while Sandmann was in the wrong, Phillips was also in the wrong in other aspects of the situation. As said before, Phillips was trying to get to the Lincoln Memorial when he was blocked by the Covington Catholic students, more specifically Sandmann. Although he says that his walking path was completely blocked, there were definitely other ways that he could’ve walked to reach his destination. He had to have realized that he was face to face with a teenager and that his actions could have been taken as harassment and intent to intimidate a minor, who he is much older than. Phillips is seen in videos banging a drum and singing while at the same time being very close to Sandmann’s face. Although the action did not seem to scare off Sandmann, it is not the right way to go about things. It is not right to be in the face of someone who is much younger than you just because he was standing in your walking path.

The controversy that happened on Jan. 22 is still being talked about today. People need to eventually realize that the event is over and needs to be moved on from.

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Covington Catholic Controversy