Editor’s Note:This article has been updated to reflect additional information that has come forward since the original reporting
A group of Covington Catholic High School students seen in a viral video apparently taunting and intimidating a Native American man during the March for Life rally could soon be expelled for their actions.
On Saturday, a viral video circulated showing the students wearing Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” hats and shirts surrounding a Native American man who was in Washington, D.C., to participate in the Indigenous Peoples March. As Cincinnati.com reported, the video showed Native American man Nathan Phillips with the students surrounding him, as they appeared to taunt him while he performed a traditional Native American drum song.
In extended videos of the incident that were released after the initial reports, it is revealed that Phillips entered the group of students in an effort to diffuse what he thought could have been a confrontation between the teenagers and a group called the Black Hebrew Israelites, who Phillips told the Detroit Free Press were “saying some harsh things” in front of the students.
“So I put myself in between that,” said Phillips. “Between a rock and hard place.”
The young men were identified as students from Covington Catholic High School, who traveled to Washington for the March for Life pro-life rally that took place at the same time as the Indigenous Peoples March. The video sparked outrage across the country and prompted the Roman Catholic Diocese of Covington to speak out against the actions of the students.
“We condemn the actions of the Covington Catholic High School students towards Nathan Phillips specifically, and Native Americans in general, Jan. 18, after the March for Life, in Washington, D.C. We extend our deepest apologies to Mr. Phillips,” said Laura Keener, a spokeswoman for the district.
“This behavior is opposed to the Church’s teachings on the dignity and respect of the human person.”
Phillips spoke out after the incident as well, saying that the boys were taunting him with chants of “Build the wall.” A visibly shaken Phillips said that he was hurt to hear Americans being so closed-minded.
“When I was there singing, I heard them saying, ‘build that wall! build that wall!'” Phillips said in a video posted to Twitter.
“This is indigenous land—not supposed to have walls here. We never [did] for millennium.”
Keener added that the incident is under investigation and that the students involved could be expelled from the private high school.
The school is also facing growing outside pressure to punish the students involved. Many took to social media to call on the school to expel the students, especially one young man who stood inches from Nathan Phillips’ face to taunt the Native American man.
Covington Catholic High School must expel this racist kid pic.twitter.com/d7oKujhdRk
— Roger Ramjet Rathman (@RamjetResists) January 19, 2019
Pope Francis (@Pontifex) Covington #Catholic EXPEL these HATEFUL Young Men #indigenous people, Are you teaching HATE Video is disturbing SHAME!
Boys in ‘Make America Great Again’ Hats Mob Native Elder at Indigenous Peoples March https://t.co/VljbSxvbNm
— MaryB (@kelticlass60) January 19, 2019
The school has not said if anyone else involved with the trip could face discipline. It was not clear whether there were any staff members from Covington Catholic High School with the students at the time of the incident, as it appeared there were none nearby in the videos posted of the incident this weekend.