New video complicates uproar over incident between student and Native American man

More video emerged on Sunday of the viral moment between a Native American man and a student wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat, complicating an incident that has already been cast as yet another parable of the nation’s heavily divided politics and growing racial tension.

More than an hour of footage shot before the encounter was uploaded on YouTube on Sunday, and appeared to show a confrontation between a large group of Catholic students instigated by black men who identified themselves as Hebrew Israelites. In the clip, the men can be heard shouting at anyone on scene at the Lincoln Memorial, including other black visitors and Native Americans. 

The camera then turns to the students, who were in Washington for an anti-abortion rally, some of whom were wearing hats with President Donald Trump’s campaign slogan.

“And you got these pompous bastards coming down here in the middle of a native rally with their dirty ass hat on,” a man in the video says. Another person later screams at the students: “A bunch of incest babies. This is what ‘Make America Great’ looks like.” 

One of the activists in the video denied on Facebook that his group had instigated the incident, saying in a comment that the “devils are trying to be sneaky.”

The Native American elder at the center of the viral video, Nathan Phillips, comes into view shortly thereafter, the short encounter that has become a viral moment. Phillips is quickly surrounded by the teenagers in the clip, during which he said he felt intimidated when some began jeering and one student in particular stood staring in front of him.

Variations on Trump's 'Make America Great Again' hats
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Variations on Trump's 'Make America Great Again' hats

A woman smiles after getting an autograph by U.S. Republican presidential candidate and businessman Donald Trump on her hat after he spoke at a campaign rally South Point Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada January 21, 2016. REUTERS/David Becker

A delegate with gay rights hat attends the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S. July 27, 2016. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Audience member Ana Gomez, wearing a cap reading "Immigrants Make America Great" in the style of hats worn by U.S. Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, greets U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton during a campaign Voter Registration Rally at the University of South Florida in Tampa, Florida, United States September 6, 2016. REUTERS/Brian Snyder
Vendors sell hats outside a rally for U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump in Gaffney, South Carolina February 18, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Native American activists rally to call on President Barack Obama to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline, in front of the White House in Washington, U.S. September 13, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
An attendee wears a "Make Donald Drumpf Again" hat during the "Politicon" convention in Pasadena, California, U.S. June 25, 2016. REUTERS/Patrick T. Fallon
A man and child wear "Make America Great Again" hats as they wait for Republican nominee Donald Trump to speak at "Joni's Roast and Ride" in Des Moines, Iowa, U.S., August 27, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump signs a hat at a campaign rally in West Chester, Pennsylvania, U.S., April 25, 2016. REUTERS/Dominick Reuter
A man wears a hat that says "Make America Gay Again," a parody of Donald Trump's campaign slogan while watching the San Francisco LGBT Pride Parade in San Francisco, California, U.S. June 26, 2016. REUTERS/Elijah Nouvelage
A man holds a "Make America Great Again" hat as U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump as he speaks during a campaign event at an airplane hanger in Rochester, New York April 10, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Supporters of Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump stand during a prayer before a rally with Trump at Clemson University's livestock arena in Pendleton, South Carolina February 10, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
The images of U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton (L) and Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump are seen painted on decorative pumpkins created by artist John Kettman in LaSalle, Illinois, U.S., June 8, 2016. REUTERS/Jim Young TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

Late Sunday, the student at the center of the video, Nick Sandmann, released a statement through a public relations firm attempting to distance himself from allegations of racism and intimidation. Instead, the Covington Catholic High School student said he believed he was helping to defuse the situation.

“I never interacted with this protestor. I did not speak to him. I did not make any hand gestures or other aggressive moves,” Sandmann wrote. “To be honest, I was startled and confused as to why he had approached me. ... I said a silent prayer that the situation would not get out of hand.”

The incident has prompted nationwide outrage and Sandmann said Sunday he had received death threats and calls that he be expelled from school. In several interviews, Phillips clarified that he had approached the students himself in an attempt to defray some of the tension between the white students and the black men who were yelling.

“I stepped in between to pray,” Phillips told The New York Times in an interview, saying he was worried that racial tensions were “coming to a boiling point.”

Tensions remained high after the encounter, and Sandmann’s school and the Diocese of Covington in Kentucky released a joint statement apologizing to Phillips on Saturday. Amid the threats, the student said he harbored “no ill will” for the Vietnam War veteran, but moved to direct some of the responsibility for the situation on Phillips.

“I respect this person’s right to protest and engage in free speech activities, and I support his chanting on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial any day of the week,” Sandmann wrote. “I believe he should re-think his tactics of invading the personal space of others, but that is his choice to make.”

  • This article originally appeared on HuffPost.
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