A video that shows a white high school student in the U.S. appearing to confront an Indigenous elder in Washington, D.C., over the weekend has sparked online outrage.
The video eventually led the student’s school — the private, all-male Covington Catholic High School in northern Kentucky — to issue a statement condemning his actions and promising an investigation into the incident.
But a video that surfaced Sunday paints a more complex timeline of events, showing another group of men taunting the students and yelling slurs at them. The group of men were also yelling racial slurs at the Indigenous activists.
The incident happened Friday in front of the Lincoln Memorial, where both a March for Life rally and an Indigenous Peoples March took place.
It seemed to involve three groups: Indigenous rights activists, a group of teenagers from the Catholic school (some of whom were wearing Make America Great Again hats) and a group of Hebrew Israelites.
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It is difficult to piece together the exact timeline of events, but a nearly two-hour video seems to help add some context to the situation.
Before the incident between the high school student and the Indigenous activist happened, the video shows men from the Hebrew Israelites — a group that believes African-Americans are descendants of the Hebrews from the Bible — yelling at many passersby at the event.
Shar Yaqataz Banyamyan, one of the Hebrew Israelites at the event, denied in a Facebook video that his group had been instigators.
In the longer video, one of the men, believed to be with the Hebrew Israelites, yells at the group of Indigenous activists.
“You’re not supposed to worship eagles, buffaloes … all types of animals. This is the reason why the Lord took away your land,” one of the men is heard saying.
He then adds: “Indian means savage.”
One of the Indigenous activists, who says in the video that he is a historian, corrects him and says the term Indian comes from a Spanish word, “Indo,” meaning god-like people.
The camera later turns to a group of teenagers, and one of them is wearing a red Make America Great Again hat.
“Then you got those pompous b*****ds over there wearing Make America Great Again hats,” one man said. “Why you not angry at them?”
One of the men is then heard calling the teenagers “dirty crackers” and “incest babies.” Someone from the group also later calls the students “future school shooters” and yells out homophobic slurs.
Later in the video, the students start gathering in large numbers on the steps behind the men. As they continue shouting, the students start chanting back.
“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,” Nick Sandmann, a student at the private Catholic school, said in a statement.
“The chants are commonly used at sporting events. They are all positive in nature and sound like what you would hear at any high school.”
One of the students jumps in front of the group and rips off his shirt. The groups then start chanting and dancing.
That’s when an Indigenous protester, Nathan Phillips, who is also a Vietnam War veteran, walks up to the crowd of teenagers and starts drumming.
WATCH: Indigenous man at Washington protest speaks about alleged mocking by teens
Phillips told the New York Times he approached the crowd in hopes of easing the racial tension that had flared between the mostly white teens and the African-American protesters.
He said that he heard the students chanting “build that wall” and “go back to the reservation” during the encounter.
Phillips told CNN that Sandmann blocked his path as he tried to keep moving.
“I was scared,” Phillips said. “I don’t like the word ‘hate.’ I don’t like even saying it, but it was hate unbridled. It was like a storm.”
But Sandmann has denied acting with any disrespect toward Phillips.
Sandmann, whose statement was tweeted by CNN anchor Jake Tapper late on Sunday, insisted the video was misinterpreted, leading to “outright lies being spread about my family and me.”
“I never interacted with this protester. I did not speak to him. I did not make any hand gestures or other aggressive moves,” Sandmann wrote, adding that he was “startled and confused” about why Phillips approached him.
Sandmann said he reasoned that by remaining “motionless and calm” he hoped to defuse the situation.
—With files from Reuters
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