The first Indigenous Peoples March kicked off today, taking place at the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The event featured various speakers, as well as songs, prayers, and dance, all of which were meant to bring attention to the many injustices against indigenous peoples around the world.
Unfortunately, a group of teenagers was keen on putting a damper on what was meant to be a celebration of cultures. As previously reported by the Inquisitr, a group of students from Covington Catholic High — a private, all-male, Kentucky-based school — accosted Nathan Phillips, a Native American elder who participated in the Indigenous Peoples March.
As detailed by the Huffington Post, the group of high-schoolers — most of whom were wearing “Make America Great Again” (MAGA) hats — surrounded Phillips, as one student approached him. As Phillips sang on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, this particular student began to harass and mock him.
Nathan Phillips, who served in the Vietnam War, was singing the “AIM Song,” which has become commonly associated with the American Indian Movement. He was also the former director of the Native Youth Alliance.
It didn’t take long for Phillips to respond to the incident, as previously detailed by the Inquisitr. Shortly after the altercation, the Vietnam veteran took to Instagram to provide a statement. The video has been making the rounds and has been reposted multiple times on Twitter, even being shared by A Wrinkle In Time director Ava DuVernay.
Thank you to @VinceSchilling of @IndianCountry and many others who identified the proud Native man who is being harassed. He is Mr. Nathan Phillips. I’m reposting this video from “ka_ya11” on IG. This man’s words pierce my heart. The grace. The wisdom. The hope. pic.twitter.com/BKOA40SVq5
— Ava DuVernay (@ava) January 19, 2019
In the video, Phillips can be seen giving a heartfelt speech as he wipes away tears from his face.
Other celebrities and public figures also chimed in on the matter. Recently elected Congresswoman Deb Haaland (D-N.M.) condemned the actions of the high school students. Haaland is one of the first Native American women to be elected as a congresswoman.
“This Veteran put his life on the line for our country,” Haaland wrote on Twitter.
“The students’ display of blatant hate, disrespect, and intolerance is a signal of how common decency has decayed under this administration. Heartbreaking.”
Comedian and actor Patton Oswalt also took to Twitter to share his thoughts. Unsurprisingly, the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. star criticized the teenagers for their childish behavior.
“I liked intimidating elderly Native Americans. I STILL like intimidating elderly Native Americans.” — this kid, at his confirmation hearing, before being appointed to the Supreme Court. pic.twitter.com/ijFJYMkhWG
— Patton Oswalt (@pattonoswalt) January 19, 2019
Comedian Kathy Griffin was similarly outraged by the disrespectful teenagers, and she condemned “MAGA” hats on Twitter.
“MAGA hats. Donald Trump has brought the worst out in our country,” Griffin wrote.
Will & Grace star Debra Messing also took to Twitter to weigh in on the matter.
“I’d be ashamed and appalled if he was my son,” she wrote.
While staff at Covington Catholic High School are investigating the matter, there is — at the time of writing — no word as to whether or not the students will face disciplinary action.