Nathan Phillips told TMZ on Wednesday that he doesn't feel like he needs to have a face-to-face conversation with the Covington Catholic High School teen accused of taunting him. Nick Sandmann appeared on Today to speak about his side of the controversial encounter, and during the interview, he said that he'd like the chance to sit down with Phillips. But the Native American elder said that he thinks the conversation needs to be much broader than something between the two of them.
Sandmann spoke with Today's Savannah Guthrie and explained his side of the encounter. The Kentucky teen says that he was trying to be respectful and was unclear of what was expected of him at the moment. He says he didn't move because he didn't want to bump any of the phone cameras around him, so he stayed in place.
"As far as standing there, I had every right to do so," the 16-year-old said.
When asked if he felt like he owed anyone an apology, Sandmann said no.
Still, he says he'd like to have a conversation with Phillips.
"My position is that I was not disrespectful to Mr. Phillips. I respect him. I'd like to talk to him," he said.
In response to the interview, Phillips says that he thinks the conversation needs to be a larger one between the Catholic church and native peoples.
"In a sense of true reconciliation, I think we need to have some kind of dialogue," he said.
"But I think the dialogue should be between him and myself, but between the indigenous people and the Catholic Diocese, Pope Francis, and perhaps if the Vatican were to host a gathering, I'd be willing to go."When asked if he was rejecting Sandmann's olive branch and if he was turning down the opportunity to meet face-to-face, Phillips said that he was. TMZ also asked how Phillips felt about Trump's decision to weigh in on the situation via Twitter.He laughed and agreed with the interviewer who said that if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all.
Sandmann was the subject of a video that went viral this past weekend, which depicted the teen facing off with the Omaha elder as he drummed at the National Mall in Washington D.C. The video shows Sandmann face to face with Phillips with what appears to be a smirk on his face. This sent social media into an outrage, accusing the teen of everything from racism to disrespectful behavior.
While it isn't clear who started the altercation, a full version of the video shows a group of Black Hebrew Israelites hurling insults at Sandmann and his friends, causing liberals and conservatives to battle over who deserves the blame and what really happened.