Over the past several days, the internet has been divided over a viral video depicting students from Kentucky’s Covington Catholic High School appearing to mock Native American protesters outside the Lincoln Memorial on January 18th. Yesterday, January 23rd, Nick Sandmann—the student in the red MAGA hat from the now-viral encounter—told Today host Savannah Guthrie that he felt he “was not disrespectful” toward Native American elder Nathan Phillips. And now, in a new interview on Today, Phillips has responded by saying that he forgives Sandmann. He told Guthrie that he had watched the Covington Catholic student’s interview, and though he thought it sounded “coached,” he still has forgiveness in his heart.
Phillips also reiterated that he heard the students chanting, “Build that wall.” Later, when Guthrie asked him if he felt he should have been the one to walk away and end the confrontation, Phillips said that he had been trying to do that.
Ultimately, Phillips said that he was “blocked” by the Covington Catholic students.
Phillips said that Sandmann’s statement wasn’t written in his own words since he had the help of a PR firm (the Louisville Courier Journal first reported on Sandmann’s use of a firm). He concluded by saying he wanted to see “some sincerity, some responsibility for his actions” from Sandmann.
We’re happy that Phillips was finally able to share his side of the story—and his reaction to Sandmann’s account—in his own words.