As recently as Monday, Native American protester Nathan Phillips was refusing to meet with Covington Catholic students as he continued to smear them with help from left-wing media outlets.
At that time, Cincinnati restauranteur Jeff Ruby offered to pay to fly Phillips – first-class – to his restaurant to “break bread and make amends” with the high school boys the protester had previously called “beasts.”
“It’s not the right time,” Phillips told the Cincinnati Enquirer. “I might consider it at some point. There’d have to be certain assurances in place, give and take, and understanding.”
That has now changed, as has Phillips’ account of what happened last Friday when he confronted a group of high-school boys.
The Omaha Nation elder now wants a “teachable moment” with the students, according to a press release from the Lakota People’s Law Project.
“Race relations in this country and around the world have reached a boiling point,” Phillips said. “It is sad that on the weekend of a holiday when we celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., racial hostility occurred on the steps of the Lincoln memorial, where King gave his ‘I Have a Dream’ speech.”
The press release describes Phillips time in the spotlight as “sudden and unwanted fame after a YouTube video went viral showing him being mocked by a group of Catholic high school students wearing MAGA (‘Make America Great Again’) hats while he was singing a traditional Native song at the conclusion of the Indigenous Peoples March at the Lincoln Memorial on Friday.”
That’s not exactly what happened. The Catholic students were being harassed by a group of Black Hebrew Israelites who were shouting racial and anti-gay slurs, according to video recordings of the incident. The students began drowning out the slurs with school spirit songs. Phillips and his group then approached the high school boys while singing and banging drums, and walked right up to one. Phillips began banging his drum mere inches from a 16-year-old’s face.
The press release goes on to suggest Phillips meet with the students to “have a dialog about cultural appropriation, racism, and the importance of listening to and respecting diverse cultures.”
This is the same Nathan Phillips who called the boys a “lynch mob” and “beasts” and attempted to disrupt a Saturday evening mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C.
Before additional evidence was released, the media took Phillips at his word as he described the situation in a way that in no way lined up with video evidence. Phillips initially claimed to The Washington Post that the teens surrounded him and harassed him.
“It was getting ugly, and I was thinking: ‘I’ve got to find myself an exit out of this situation and finish my song at the Lincoln Memorial,’” Phillips told the Post. “I started going that way, and that guy in the hat stood in my way, and we were at an impasse. He just blocked my way and wouldn’t allow me to retreat.”
After videos proved that he approached the students, he began claiming that he did so to deescalate tensions between the Catholic boys and the Black adults hurling slurs.
He told the Detroit Free Press that the Black Israelites were merely talking amongst themselves.
“They witnessed these individuals on their soapbox saying what they had to say,” Phillips said. “They didn’t agree with it and got offended.”
Phillips went on in that interview to claim the Catholic boys “were in the process of attacking these four black individuals,” that the boys “were beastly and these old black individuals was their prey,” and that they chanted “build the wall” at him.
The video does not show the “build the wall” chants or any of Phillips’ other claims.
Phillips goes on in that interview to say the Black Israelites “were saying some harsh things, but some of it was true, too.”
Reminder: The Black Israelites called the Catholic boys “white crackers,” “incest kids,” and “fa***ts,” among other derogatory things.
Phillips then told the New York Daily News that the boy he stared down “doesn’t even see me as a human being,” without any knowledge of what the boy was actually thinking. That student said in a prepared statement that he thought “by remaining motionless and calm, I was helping to diffuse the situation” and that he was confused by Phillips. His account of the situation largely lined up with video evidence.
Now, back to the press release from the Lakota People’s Law Project. The press release claims Phillips and his group had permits to be in the area and the Catholic students and the Black Israelites did not (the Catholic boys were just waiting for a bus). The statement claims the two groups “began arguing” and he stepped in to stop the tension – by banging his drum loudly in the face of one of the students as one of his group members told them to “go back to Europe.”
“Unfortunately, much of the students’ behavior was understood by me and those with me as a mockery of our cultures,” said Phillips.
The students at one point begin making the “tomahawk chop” popular at sporting events while Phillips and his group continue to sing.
Phillips goes on in the press release to say he read the statement from the boy he confronted. “He did not apologize, and I believe there are intentional falsehoods in his testimony,” without acknowledging the multiple falsehoods Phillips himself has said about the incident that were disproved by video.
Now Phillips wants to “create space for the teaching of tolerance to happen,” days after he smeared children.
“We feel that there is a distinct lack of understanding and appreciation of Native peoples and traditions worldwide. It’s time to address the indecency of culturally appropriating our ritual movements and songs for the enjoyment of non-Native peoples,” Phillips said.
That’s a fine conversation to have, but Phillips still appears to be playing the victim here, and is still lying about the Covington Catholic students.