Covington Catholic High School has a video on its YouTube channel that shows students at a 2012 basketball game with their faces and bodies painted black. There are also images of students screaming at an African-American player. One of the students screaming at the player in one photo is wearing black face paint a painted-on white smile and eyes typical of people in blackface.
The channel features a video titled “Colonel Crazies Compilation,” with the description “video of the Colonel Crazies from over the past decade. With a Spirit that Will Not Die!” The video was posted in January of 2018.
The presence of those images, taken before any of the school’s current students were enrolled, has been part of the online conversation days after a video emerged of Covington students singing and dancing around Nathan Phillips, a Native American tribal elder who approached the students January 18 at the conclusion of the Indigenous People’s Day March and rally and the March for Life in Washington.
The images have generated blowback from people suggesting the school’s culture is approving of racist demonstrations. An overwhelming majority of the students pictured were dressed in black clothing as part of a “blackout.” The practice of students dressing up in the same color in order to facilitate a hostile environment and give their school a significant home-court or home-field advantage is common. A few students, though, were in black body and face paint, including the student with the painted-on smile and eyes.
A portion of the compilation video contains a “blackout” image from 2011. In it, the students are wearing black clothing, not blackface, save one.
A Number of Students Have Shared Stories of Discrimination They Allege They Suffered at Covington Catholic
Mac Duckworth’s post has tens of thousands of re-tweets. He claims after he came out as gay, he was harassed and threatened by Covington Catholic students. He says fake Twitter accounts were created to assail him, an explicit image of him was shared on Snapchat and he was told that his name was mentioned in morning announcements for the school’s “prayer board.”
Duckworth said he’s “depressed” and “tired of it all.”
“I’m tired of being afraid to go certain places because of cov cath. I’m tired of being depressed and treated unfairly. I’m tired of it all.”
Duckworth was not alone.
“Idk why people are shocked by these Cov Cath kids. I remember senior year they chanted “Caramel” at me during a basketball game senior year. This ain’t nothing new ?”
The student at the center of the viral video, Nicholas Sandmann, said in a statement that he and his classmates did at no time make any racist comments and he denied that he or any students said, ‘build the wall,” as has been reported by witnesses.
“At no time did I hear any student chant anything other than the school spirit chants. I did not witness or hear any students chant “build that wall” or anything hateful or racist at any time. Assertions to the contrary are simply false. Our chants were loud because we wanted to drown out the hateful comments that were being shouted at us by the protestors.”
Indeed, Sandmann claims that he was targeted by protestors and remained calm and said a silent prayer to steady himself.
“I believed that by remaining motionless and calm, I was helping to diffuse the situation. I realized everyone had cameras and that perhaps a group of adults was trying to provoke a group of teenagers into a larger conflict. I said a silent prayer that the situation would not get out of hand.
“During the period of the drumming, a member of the protestor’s entourage began yelling at a fellow student that we “stole our land” and that we should “go back to Europe.” I heard one of my fellow students begin to respond. I motioned to my classmate and tried to get him to stop engaging with the protestor, as I was still in the mindset that we needed to calm down tensions.
“I never felt like I was blocking the Native American protestor. He did not make any attempt to go around me. It was clear to me that he had singled me out for a confrontation, although I am not sure why.”
You can read Sandmann’s full statement below: