Soon after Native American activist Nathan Phillips confronted high school boys from Covington Catholic in front of the Lincoln Memorial, he reportedly led a protest of about 20 fellow Native activists, unsuccessfully attempting to crash the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception's Saturday evening Mass.
Catholic News Agency (CNA) reported Tuesday:
While chanting and playing ceremonial drums, a group of Native American rights activists reportedly led by Nathan Phillips attempted Jan. 19 to enter Washington, D.C.’s Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception during a Saturday evening Mass.
The group of 20 demonstrators was stopped by shrine security as it tried to enter the church during its 5:15 pm Vigil Mass, according to a shrine security guard on duty during the Mass.
Over the weekend, the Kentucky teens were smeared by the media for allegedly harassing Phillips based off a selectively edited video clip. However, after the full video context came out, it was clear that the boys were the ones harassed by another activist group and approached by Mr. Phillips. Mainstream media outlets were forced to walk back their initial one-sided reporting after rumors of lawsuits from the boys' families floated around online.
CNA spoke to a security guard and a source close to the shrine's leadership, both of whom corroborated the incident.
"It was really upsetting," the guard, who remained anonymous, told the outlet. "There were about twenty people trying to get in, we had to lock the doors and everything."
"We had hundreds and hundreds of people from all over the country come here to celebrate life, to celebrate each other together," the guard said, speaking of the March for Life, which generated at least 100,000 supporters on Friday. "That a protest tried to come inside during Mass was really the worst."
"I'm just really grateful that nothing too bad happened, they were really angry," the guard added.
"It's a house of worship, a place of prayer where people come to celebrate. All this anger is so against what we are all about here," the guard continued, adding, "I don't know the details of what happened on Friday [after the March for Life], I wish I did. All I know is it’s a shame, and it’s got nothing to do with why people were here."
"And this all happened on our biggest event of the year. I hope we never see it again."
"A source close to the shrine's leadership corroborated the security guard’s account, telling CNA that during the Mass, Phillips and the group tried to enter the church while playing drums and chanting, and were prohibited from entering the building by security personnel, who locked the main basilica doors with the congregation still inside," the report notes.
A spokeswoman for the shrine confirmed that "a group did assemble on Saturday evening outside the the shrine," but gave no other details other than noting that the group "left without incident."
According to a report from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), a Native American woman from Saskatchewan said she participated in a protest of about 60 people outside the shrine on Saturday night in support for Phillips. She claims a photo she provided shows Phillips speaking to a group of protesters outside the shrine on Saturday evening.
One of the protesters in attendance says in video posted to social media that the Catholic Church must be held "accountable" for the alleged sins of the Covington Catholic boys and for the "colonial violence that the Catholic Church reproduces every day," noted CNA.