UPDATE: Late today the Diocese of Covington and Covington Catholic High School responded to the events below and released this statement:
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. This behavior is opposed to the Church’s teachings on the dignity and respect of the human person.
The matter is being investigated and we will take appropriate action, up to and including expulsion.
We know this incident also has tainted the entire witness of the March for Life and express our most sincere apologies to all those who attended the March and all those who support the pro-life movement.
The response on social media to this encounter has been swift and damning.
Covington Catholic High School faced backlash on social media Saturday morning after video was posted and widely shared showing a tense incident involving indigenous marchers and a group of young men in Washington, D.C.
The video shows a young man wearing a “Make America Great Again” cap standing near and staring at a man who is drumming as other young men surrounding them cheer and chant. Some of the onlookers appear to wear clothing bearing insignia from Covington Catholic High School in Park Hills.
The man with the drum was participating in an Indigenous Peoples March, according to people who posted about the incident.
Twitter users condemned the incident as an attempt by the group to intimidate the marchers and called for a response from the school.
The Enquirer could not independently confirm that students from Covington Catholic were present during the incident or the origin of the video.
However, Laura Keener, the communications director with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Covington, released a brief statement at about 12:15 p.m. Saturday:
“We are just now learning about this incident and regret it took place. We are looking into it.”
Making matters worse: this took place during the March for Life.
And I’ll repeat a question others have asked: where were the chaperones while this was happening?SATURDAY NIGHT UPDATE: The Cincinnati Enquirer has a good summary of what what evidently happened, and adds:
A Change.com petition addressed to Rev. Roger Joseph Foys, Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Covington, has asked for the school to stop any association with the March for Life following the event.
The petition, signed by 1,480 people, asked for the immediate termination of principal Robert Rowe for “fostering an environment where these types of actions and words are condoned.” The petition was penned by Matthew Lehman, who said he is a 1995 graduate of Covington Catholic.
The petition also asked for the appointment of a board of the school to review CovCath’s admissions, educational standards, administration and social mission.
Covington Mayor Joe Meyer called the confrontation “disturbing, discouraging, and – frankly – appalling” in an op-ed Saturday.
“The point is that because of the actions of people who live in Northern Kentucky, our region is being challenged again to examine our core identities, values, and beliefs,” Meyer said.
“No, we’re not perfect. More progress needs to be made, and we will continue to work diligently on making it. In the meantime, Covington is proud of being a welcoming city where bigotry, discrimination and hatred will not be tolerated.”
Benjamin Baxter at Medium.com has put together a timeline with links to different accounts of the event.
Meanwhile, other videos are popping up on social media which purport to show a different side of the confrontation. As someone else noted: there’s a lot going on here. Stay tuned.