A Covington Catholic High School parent contacted Heavy to call the video and story about the students taunting a Native American “fake news.”
A white teenager from the Kentucky Catholic school, surrounded by classmates wearing Make America Great Again apparel, is seen standing face-to-face with a Native American elder during the Indigenous People’s Day March in Washington D.C. Friday.
The woman who emailed Heavy is not the mother of the student seen in the face of the Native American man, but is the mother of a Covington Catholic student who was at the rally. The student at the center of the video has been identified as Nick Sandmann, a junior at Covington Catholic, after he came forward to issue a statement. Sandmann says he and his classmates were not mocking or intimidating the Native American protesters and had started “school spirit” chants after being yelled at by an unrelated group from the Black Hebrew Israelites.
In emails to Heavy, the mother of the Covington Catholic student provided a first-hand account of what the students claim happened and said the video and story was “fake news.” The email exchanged occurred before videos showing more of the incident were shared widely and Heavy determined the mother was speaking from what her son told her.
Heavy has not identified the student because the mother would not confirm his name after this reporter reached out to her and asked if it was her son in the video. Heavy has confirmed that her son is a student at Covington Catholic High School and was at the rally. The woman, who Heavy is also not naming, and her husband claimed in the email that Phillips, who she referred as “this man,” in quotation marks, was drumming close to the teen’s face. And she said that the students themselves were harassed “by black Muslims.”
“Shame on you! Were you there? Did you hear the names the people where calling these boys? It was shameful. Did you witness the black Muslims yelling profanities and video taping trying to get something to futher (sic) your narrative of hatred?? Did you know that this “man” came up to this one boy and drummed in his face? Shame on you. Only reporting what you want. More fake news.”
When this reporter thanked her for the correspondence and explained that it would be reported on as part of the story, she demanded the emails be deleted.
“Delete my email. I want nothing to do with helping perpetuating (sic) your hate. I do not want to be a part of your story. You are ruining a boys life for fake news. Hate spreads like wildfire. I pray for you.”
Further emails to the parents for clarification were not replied to.
You can read the full statement from Nicholas Sandmann below:
Videos and witness accounts provided to Heavy provide context, albeit differing views.
A witness to the events said she and her mother “saw the Catholic kids mocking native Americans.”
Jesscia Travis and her mother were visiting the Lincoln Memorial as dancers at the Indigenous Peoples’ Day March were wrapping up. Travis said while she “did not see any direct bullying but I noted the kids appeared to be mocking and disrespectful.”
She recalled that as she walked away “I mentally noted the kids were still loud and disrespectful. We then walked out into the common area at the bottom of the stairs. There were about 5 black men there who had been ‘preaching’ but otherwise not bothering people. The kids – many wearing red MAGA hats – had surrounded the black men on the stairs. They were mocking them. I heard one tell them to just ‘drink the Trump water.’ I recorded a video and posted on Facebook about how disrespectful the kids were.”
“As my mother and I walked away, the kids started chanting very loudly. We were too far away to hear what they were saying but it was loud and aggressive and directed at the black men. I saw one kid jump down to where the black men were standing and rip off his shirt. Bare-chested, it appeared he beat his chest. The others laughed and jeered.”
In reference to the Covington Catholic student’s mother’s claim about “black Muslims,” a near 2-hour long video shows members of the Black Hebrew Israelites demonstrating and the exchange between them and Covington students that led to the exchange with Phillips.
The video is cued to 1:09 where they BHI and MAGA kids intersect.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this report identified a woman who had emailed a statement to Heavy as someone believed to be the mother of the Covington Catholic student seen immediately in front of Nathan Philips in the video. Heavy did not identify the woman or her son by name.
Nick Sandmann, a Covington student, has since issued a statement identifying himself as the student shown in front of Phillips. The woman quoted in Heavy’s original report is the mother of a different Covington student, not of Nick Sandmann.
Heavy can confirm that the Covington parent quoted in the report is not Julie Weis Sandmann, Nick Sandmann’s mother.
The statement was falsely attributed in other news reports to Julie Sandmann. Heavy apologizes for the confusion that led to that incorrect attribution.