Boys in Trump hats mock Native American man; school condemns students

PHOTO: Instagram/BorderAngelsOfficial

KENTUCKY - A Catholic school in Kentucky condemned a group of its students, many of whom wore "Make America Great Again" hats, after they were recorded harassing a Native American Vietnam veteran in a video that went viral on Saturday (Jan 19).

The students from the private, all-male Covington Catholic High School in northern Kentucky were in Washington for an anti-abortion rally last Friday when they were filmed surrounding Mr Nathan Phillips and mocking the Native American's singing and drumming.

One teen, in particular, is seen standing in front of Mr Phillips, staring into his face with a smile. Fellow students, many in clothing bearing President Donald Trump's "MAGA" slogan, cheered him on and chanted, "build that wall, build that wall", Mr Phillips said.

The footage was shared online by organisers of an indigenous peoples' march that also took place last Friday.

In a joint statement, the high school and Diocese of Covington condemned the actions of the students "towards Nathan Phillips specifically, and Native Americans in general".

"The matter is being investigated and we will take appropriate action, up to and including expulsion," the statement said.

In a separate video uploaded to social media, the 64-year-old Phillips, an elder of Nebraska's Omaha tribe, wiped away tears as he described the incident.

View this post on Instagram

We didn't cross the border, the border crossed us ✊🏽❤️ This disgusting display of bullying and disrespect occurred at the Indigenous Peoples March yesterday. Those are high school students from an allegedly Christian high school, exhibiting nothing but a horrifying level of hatred. Violent disregard for elders and human dignity in general. They are from Covington Catholic High School @cch_colonels (859) 491-2247 should you wish to discuss the behavior of these young men, why it's unacceptable, and the violence we've all seen it develop to. Their principal's name is Robert Lowe. (Reminder that Monday is a holiday, call Tuesday) Reposted from @earthchores - this is our reality. 2019. a swarm of young, unattended Trump supporters gathered to cause a scene, disrespect our cultures, and put fear into us. i was pushed and laughed at by teenage boys who grew up to believe their lives are more important than ours. they shouted things like “Gone in 2020” and mocked us. i am still in shock. i don’t know what to say other than that i’m sad and deeply shaken. this is our reality. 2019. . . . . . . EDIT: i do not intend to discount your fear, anger, and upset, but please keep in mind these boys are of high school age. i am tired, i am upset, and i am overwhelmed, but all i wish is for these boys to be reprimanded by their schools, parents, and friends. i posted this with the intention to spread the reality of being indigenous in 2019. we did not meet these boys with violence for a reason. mvto for the support.

A post shared by Border Angels (@borderangelsofficial) on Jan 19, 2019 at 5:42am PST

"I heard them saying 'build that wall, build that wall'. These are indigenous lands, we're not supposed to have walls," he said. "I wish I could see that energy of that young mass of young men, put that energy into making this country, really, really great, helping those that are hungry."

Mr Phillips holds an annual ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery to honour Native American veterans, according to media reports.

Democratic US Congresswoman Deb Haaland, a member of New Mexico's Laguna Pueblo tribe, said on Twitter that Mr Phillips had risked his life for his country, and that the students showed "blatant hate, disrespect, and intolerance".

Covington Mayor Joe Meyer, a Democrat, said the "appalling" footage had rightly inspired "a tidal wave of condemnation" and that his town was now being linked with "intolerance and ethnic intimidation" because of the boys' actions.

"The videos being shared across the nation do NOT represent the core beliefs and values of this city," he said in a statement.

Ms Alison Lundergan Grimes, the Democratic secretary of state for Kentucky, said the children were not solely to blame.

"I turn to the adults and administration that are charged with teaching them, and to others who are silently letting others promote this behaviour," she said on Facebook.