Nicholas Sandmann has been identified as the teen in the viral video from Friday that has quickly made its rounds through the web. The video appears to show Sandmann and a group of classmates mocking a Native American man named Nathan Phillips while shouting, "build that wall." The boys are proud Trump supporters, adorned in MAGA hats and sweatshirts. They poked fun at Phillips as he attempted to play the drums at the Indigenous Peoples March at the capital. At the center of immense public backlash, Sandmann is defending himself and claiming the whole altercation wasn't as it seemed, according to Fox News.
Phillips is an American veteran and a member of Nebraska's Omaha tribe. He was brought to tears by the altercation and was deeply saddened by the unnecessary hatred by people so young. Thousands of people turned to social media to commend Phillips for remaining so calm throughout the ordeal and not striking back at the teens.Now Sandmann says it was actually he and his friends who were attacked, not by Phillips, but by African-American protestors at the event. He said he is "mortified that so many people have come to believe something that did not happen -- that students from my school were chanting or acting in a racist fashion toward African Americans or Native Americans. I did not do that, do not have hateful feelings in my heart and did not witness any of my classmates doing that."
The teen accused four members of the Black Hebrew Israelite movement of harassing him and his friends, calling them bigots and racists. He said that in an attempt to drown out the hateful words, students were encouraged to yell school chants.
"At no time did I hear any student chant anything other than the school spirit chants," Sandmann said. "I did not witness or hear any other students chant 'build that wall' or anything hateful or racist at any time. Assertions to the contrary are simply false."
As for the situation with Phillips, the teen says it wasn't what it looked like and that he hadn't been making fun of the man. He said that Phillips "locked eyes with me and approached me, coming within inches of my face" and "played his drum the entire time he was in my face." He said he tried to remain calm in an effort to diffuse the situation.
Sandmann said he and his family have received death threats because of the video.