On Friday, January 18, March for Life was held in Washington, D.C. March for Life is meant to be non-violent and give a voice to the voiceless, but a controversy has arisen as a result of clashing voices.
A group of male students from Covington Catholic School in Park Hills, Kentucky attended the march, as did a group of Black Hebrew Israelites and a small group of Native Americans who were also gathered nearby for an Indigenous People’s March.
The teenage boys, who were videoed wearing red MAGA hats, were seen as instigators in the viral outbreak. The original video released shows one student in particular, Nick Sandmann, standing face-to-face with Nathan Phillips, an Omaha elder, as well as a Vietnam War veteran. Sandmann stood still about a foot away from Phillips, with a grin plastered on his face.
Phillips is seen in the video steadily beating on a drum and reciting a song that he said serves as part of a native ceremony to bring spirits home.
“The elder man was a war vet and was expressing his personal freedom through spiritual hymns. It is clear young people are being taught to not support those who don’t ‘look’ American,” said David Parnell III (’21).
Phillips claimed that the students, along with other in attendance at the march, were chanting, “Build that wall,” along with other chants the students said they used to pump up their athletes at sporting events. The students can even be seen jumping up and down, and potentially mocking the Indigenous people and their culture.
Other videos have circulated since the initial one, claiming to show the other side of the situation.
A later posted video showed members of the Black Hebrew Israelites yelling degrading things towards the students, with the Indigenous people trying to intervene to act as a mediator. Other posts online want people to remember that the students were marching in regard to female reproductive rights, which serves an importance in the conversation considering Covington Catholic School is an all-boys school.
“I think our biggest problem is lack of communication today,” said Elizabeth Flatoff (’21).“If either the man or the boy told the other why they were standing there, there would not have been a scene. Both were trying to diffuse the situation; both wanted the same thing. I think this is how our political system is flawed.”
Regardless of the side you choose to look at, the situation is sticky. Even if nothing was meant to be looked at as derogatory or negative against one another, each group has their own story, and which one people will choose is up to them.
“[Groups] might want the same things, but never know it because they instead try to make a statement [and] create a scene instead of actually diffusing or solving the problem,” said Flatoff.
This story serves as a reminder that while yes, Americans have the right to theirown personal speech, it is also important to remember that we are all different in our own ways, whether that be with race, religion, ethnicity, or anything else.