- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Nick Sandmann, the Covington Catholic High School student caught up in the controversial confrontation with Native American activists, defended his choices on Wednesday.

In an interview with NBC’s “Today,” Mr. Sandmann asserted that both he and Nathan Phillips, the Native American elder, were well within their First Amendment rights during the confrontation on Friday.

Videos emerging from the incident show that another protest group, the Black Hebrew Israelites, began taunting the Covington Catholic students. Mr. Phillips and his group began to talk between the two groups and make their way through the crowd of boys, stopping in front of Mr. Sandmann.

Mr. Sandmann said the students got permission from chaperones to shout school chants to drown out the insults. The student said that he felt threatened, despite being in a much larger group because the protesters were adults and he “wasn’t sure what was going to happen.”

“In hindsight, I wish we had just found another spot to wait for our buses, but at the time, being positive seemed better than letting them slander us with all of these things,” Mr. Sandmann said.

In other interviews, Mr. Phillips explained that he went toward the boys in order to defuse what he saw as a tense situation between the Black Hebrew Israelites and the students.

The student also said that his group should have walked away once the Native American activists came to them, but he didn’t “want to be disrespectful to Mr. Phillips” if he was trying to have a conversation.

Mr. Sandmann, who in the videos can be seen staring back at Mr. Phillips with what some have described as a smirk, said he wasn’t intending to be disrespectful. In his view, he was trying to show that he wouldn’t be moved to “any further reaction of aggression.”

“As far as standing there, I had every right to do so,” he said. “I can’t say that I’m sorry for listening to him and standing there.”

Mr. Phillips, who has done several interviews after the incident went viral, disputes Mr. Sandmann’s version of events. He contends that Mr. Sandmann locked eyes with him and approached him.

“I have read the statement from Nick Sandmann, the student who stared at me for a long time. He did not apologize, and I believe there are intentional falsehoods in his testimony,” Mr. Phillips said.

Covington Catholic High, an all-boys school, closed on Tuesday for safety reasons and reopened on Wednesday, although parents do not have to send their sons to school for the time being. 

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