Nick Sandmann, the student from a predominately white, private high school in Covington, Kentucky who was videotaped smirking at a Native American elder and Vietnam veteran at the Lincoln Memorial over the weekend, was afforded an opportunity to explain what happened from his point of view during MLK weekend in Washington D.C. on a national platform.
Today Show host Savannah Guthrie first asked the Covington Catholic High School student, “Do you see your own fault in any way?”
The 16-year-old replied, “As far as standing there, I had every right to do so. My position is that I was not disrespectful to Mr. Phillips. I respect him. I’d like to talk to him. In hindsight, I wish we could have walked away and avoided the whole thing, but I can’t say that I’m sorry for listening to him and standing there.”
He also said Black Israelites were “shouting a bunch of homophobic, racist, derogatory comments at us.” He claims he felt “threatened” and he wasn’t sure “what was going to happen next.”
When asked if anyone shouted slurs back, he answered, “We’re a Catholic school, and it’s not tolerated. They don’t tolerate racism, and none of my classmates are racist people.”
Nathan Phillips, 64, the Native American man who Sandmann smirked at, claims he heard the white teenagers say “build the wall,” but the 16-year-old denies this.
Phillips said in interviews after the incident that he felt threatened by the teenagers who reportedly showed up at the Indigenous Peoples March after attending the anti-abortion March for Life rally. “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.’ 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.” The teenagers can be seen on the video doing a “tomahawk chop.”
In addition, back in 2011, the 90 percent white school showed Covington students wearing blackface at a basketball game.
“In hindsight, I wish we could’ve walked away and avoided the whole thing.”
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) January 23, 2019