US President Donald Trump has voiced support for the Covington Catholic High School students, including Nick Sandmann, who ended up at the epicentre of a scandal over an alleged confrontation between them and a Native American elder, later identified as military veteran Nathan Phillips. Trump noted in his tweet that Sandmann and his fellow schoolmates had been "treated unfairly" by media due to "early judgements".
Looking like Nick Sandman & Covington Catholic students were treated unfairly with early judgements proving out to be false — smeared by media. Not good, but making big comeback! “New footage shows that media was wrong about teen’s encounter with Native American” @TuckerCarlson— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 22, 2019
He added that it's a good thing that new footage had appeared later giving a different perspective on the incident, proving earlier judgements to be wrong that the students' actions and chants were racist.
In a subsequent tweet the US president added that the incident with Nick Sandmann and other students has "become symbols of Fake News and how evil it can be". He suggested though that the whole situation can unite people instead of dividing them.
Nick Sandmann and the students of Covington have become symbols of Fake News and how evil it can be. They have captivated the attention of the world, and I know they will use it for the good — maybe even to bring people together. It started off unpleasant, but can end in a dream!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 22, 2019
The US president faced harsh backlash over his stance on this incident, with many Twitterians claiming that he is defending the racist acts of the students.
the president of the United States, ladies and gentlemen, standing up for racists on Martin Luther King day. what a sorry, sorry excuse for a human being. thank god we elected this thousand-kiloton dumpster fire, and not the lady who was careless with three emails, am I right— Jeff Tiedrich (@itsJeffTiedrich) January 22, 2019
Some claimed that the fact that they were wearing MAGA hats was solid proof of their racist attitude.
But they were wearing your brand, which means they’re cool with misogyny, white supremacy, disrespect to military, lying, sexual harassment, partying w convicted pedophiles, infidelity, and selling an American election to a nefarious government. Sorry, I ran out of characters.— Sarah Hutto (@huttopian) January 22, 2019
That kid CHOSE to wear. #MAGA hat… He gets what he deserves. Period. End of discussion.— Fred Wilson (@BigWillie213) January 22, 2019
Despite the newly discovered facts about the incident, many people continue to believe that the students were harassing the Native American elder.
Smeared by the media? For harassing a Vietnam veteran & Native American elder? This is #MAGA?— William LeGate (@williamlegate) January 22, 2019
The 2 incidents are unrelated. That boy and his now famous smirk,— P.Salvati Norris (@NorrispPattie) January 22, 2019
In the face of an elder are unforgettable…”a picture is worth a thousand words. Period…
Responding to previous commentators, some netizens pointed out that they should take a closer look at the extended version of the footage, before jumping to conclusions.
A 2 hour video is worth a lot more.— 🎃Gunpowder & Vanilla🔫 (@AutumnFoxNews) January 22, 2019
What are you not buying? The truth? That the young man did nothing andvthe lamestream media made up a story about disrespect in reverse?— Denny Woolley (@CIPguy) January 22, 2019
Many others lauded Trump for defending the Covington Catholic High School students and denouncing the hasty judgements.
This is the second time we agree on something! Totally digusted by these supposed men’s behavior! Who attacks kids really!— Melanie Watkins (@SoulfulStitcher) January 22, 2019
The left is violent I've said it for yrs… the media protects the the left… media lies for the agenda— Sizedog (@sizer_brian) January 22, 2019
It seems like the media always gets it wrong at first, wish they would seek the truth— Janna Morris (@jannalynnmorris) January 22, 2019
Nick Sandmann and other students at Covington Catholic High School, who were visiting DC to participate in the March for Life found themselves in the middle of a scandal after a video of Sandmann wearing a MAGA hat standing still and occasionally smiling in front of a Native American elder playing his drum rocked the internet.
Nathan Phillips, a Vietnam veteran, stood dignified and unbowed in the literal face of white aggression. As expected. The MAGA hats make it easier to see, but this is older than Trump and his flock. It isn’t “kids being kids.” It is America being America. pic.twitter.com/udHYot6EGZ— Jamil Smith (@JamilSmith) January 19, 2019
Many users believed that the elder had been surrounded and harassed by the students, also wearing MAGA hats, while Sandmann was allegedly acting in a racist way. The scandal was further fuelled by the elder's claims that he heard the students chanting "build that wall".
Two days later another video, shot from different perspective, surfaced on social media giving a new view of the alleged confrontation. It turned out that the students had been harassed by a group of a Black Hebrew Israelites, who were calling them names, and in response they started doing school specific chants to drown out their offenders. The Native American elder decided to ease the tensions between the two groups by placing himself between them and playing the drum.
The elder went through the students' crowd, but stopped in front of Sandmann who didn't let him pass. As Sandman later explained himself, he thought that the Native American "singled [him] out for a confrontation" and had decided to stand "motionless and calm" to diffuse the situation.