WASHINGTON (AFP) – Boys from a Catholic school in Kentucky were treated unfairly in a rush to judgement, President Donald Trump said on Monday after allegations the students had mocked a Native American elder.
“Looking like Nick Sandman & Covington Catholic students were treated unfairly with early judgements proving out to be false – smeared by media,” Trump tweeted.
As in many cases, Trump’s tweet appeared to be triggered by Fox News, as he cited the network’s Tucker Carlson saying new footage showed “media” were wrong about the encounter.
Footage captured on multiple phone camera videos that swept social media on Saturday showed a white Covington student standing silently with his lips taught, extremely close to Nathan Phillips, a Native American Vietnam war veteran, who beats a traditional drum while chanting.
The student wears a red cap bearing Trump’s slogan, “Make America Great Again.”
Other students are jumping up and down, chanting.
The incident occurred on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial last Friday when the annual March for Life coincided with a rally by indigenous communities calling for their rights to be respected.
The Diocese of Covington and Covington Catholic High School issued a statement rebuking the students after their displays drew widespread derision.
One of the first two Native American women elected to Congress in November, Deb Haaland, linked the students’ behaviour to what she called rising levels of racial intolerance under the Trump administration.