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story.lead_photo.caption Fog covers Covington Catholic High School in Park Hills, Kentucky, Saturday, Jan 19, 2019. A diocese in Kentucky apologized Saturday after videos emerged showing students from the Catholic boys' high school mocking Native Americans outside the Lincoln Memorial on Friday after a rally in Washington.

FRANKFORT, Kentucky — Students at a Kentucky Catholic school who were involved in a video showing them mocking Native Americans outside the Lincoln Memorial after a Washington rally could potentially face expulsion, according to the diocese.

In a joint statement, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Covington and Covington Catholic High School apologized and said they are investigating and will take "appropriate action, up to and including expulsion."

The Indigenous Peoples March in Washington on Friday coincided with the March for Life, which drew thousands of anti-abortion protesters, including a group from Covington Catholic High School in Park Hills, Kentucky.

Videos circulating online show a youth staring at and standing extremely close to Nathan Phillips, a 64-year-old Native American man singing and playing a drum. Other students, some wearing Covington clothing and many wearing "Make America Great Again" hats and sweat shirts, surrounded them, chanting, laughing and jeering.

"We extend our deepest apologies to Mr. Phillips," the diocese statement read. "This behavior is opposed to the Church's teachings on the dignity and respect of the human person."

According to the "Indian Country Today" website, Phillips is an Omaha elder and Vietnam veteran who holds an annual ceremony honoring Native American veterans at Arlington National Cemetery.

In this Friday, Jan. 18, 2019 image made from video provided by the Survival Media Agency, a teenager wearing a "Make America Great Again" hat, center left, stands in front of an elderly Native American singing and playing a drum in Washington.
In this Friday, Jan. 18, 2019 image made from video provided by the Survival Media Agency, a teenager wearing a "Make America Great Again" hat, center left, stands in front of an elderly Native American singing and playing a drum in Washington.

Marcus Frejo, a member of the Pawnee and Seminole tribes who is also known as Chief Quese Imc, said he had been a part of the march and was among a small group of people remaining after the rally when the boisterous students began chanting slogans such as "make America great" and then began doing the haka, a traditional Maori dance. In a phone interview, Frejo told The Associated Press he felt they were mocking the dance.

One 11-minute video of the confrontation shows the haka dance and students loudly chanting before Phillips and Frejo approached them.

Frejo said he joined Phillips to defuse the situation, singing the anthem from the American Indian Movement with both men beating out the tempo on hand drums.

Although he feared a mob mentality that could turn ugly, Frejo said he was at peace singing despite the scorn. He briefly felt something special happen as they repeatedly sang the tune.

"They went from mocking us and laughing at us to singing with us. I heard it three times," Frejo said. "That spirit moved through us, that drum, and it slowly started to move through some of those youths."

Eventually a calm fell over the group of students and they broke up and walked away.

The videos prompted a torrent of outrage online. Actress and activist Alyssa Milano tweeted that the footage "brought me to tears," while actor Chris Evans tweeted that the students' actions were "appalling" and "shameful."

As of Sunday morning, Covington Catholic High School's Facebook page was not available and its Twitter feed was set to private.


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  • 0boxerssuddenlinknet
    January 20, 2019 at 2:48 p.m.

    stupid kids should be isolated until their frontal lobs have fully formed. sure sign of spare the rod spoil the child.

  • limb
    January 20, 2019 at 4:16 p.m.

    They are responsible for their behavior but no sign of chaperones on a school trip?
    Hope colleges get a match of names with these faces.

  • RBear
    January 20, 2019 at 4:24 p.m.

    So, I came out pretty harshly yesterday with the views of the videos and the aggressive behavior these students initially exhibited. But more details are coming out that may give the students some opportunity for punishment short of expulsion, something that would weigh heavily on a college application. I hope the school reviews ALL the evidence, including a possible exchange between others prior to the confrontation with the Native Americans.
    They don't get off the hook because that behavior was uncalled for and has created a bad situation for the school. They were on a trip sponsored by the school and so the school should be held accountable for the incident. But before we damage the futures of these young men, all the evidence needs to be reviewed.

  • PenLR
    January 20, 2019 at 4:46 p.m.

    They insulted multiple cultures simultaneously. The Maori haka dance is done by the New Zealand indigenous people and they taunted Native Americans doing it.

    January 20, 2019 at 5:26 p.m.

    Amen, RBear. This is a very complex situation.

  • JakeTidmore
    January 20, 2019 at 6:13 p.m.

    The red caps are becoming symbolic of the racism that inflicts Trumpism. Just like the brown shirts with the Nazi, wearing it seems to imbue the wearers with an aura of superiority. In both cases, one can see the effects brainwashing has on the young men of the respective generations and how it takes advantage of the anger and resentment festering within each group.

  • RBear
    January 20, 2019 at 6:18 p.m.

    PenLR that's a stretch on the Maori haka. I've seen many football teams do it as well as many rugby teams. There's nothing really "sacred" about it as you try to imply.

  • PopMom
    January 20, 2019 at 6:29 p.m.

    Community service and a report on the atrocities committed against Native Americans would be better. If the school had booked a tour of the holocaust museum before this event, this terrible event would not have occurred. I blame the parents and the chaperones for this. The kid is from Kentucky.

  • Packman
    January 20, 2019 at 7:27 p.m.

    Once got-hooked always gut-hooked. After being gut-hooked by the Fake News Buzzfeed story useful idiots are gut-hooked by yet another Fake News story within 24 hours. Now that the facts are coming out the kids are being fully vindicated. The adults instigated the confrontation and the kids responded with restraint and confidence. Marcus Frejo has been outed as a known provocateur with a long history of activism. That he would attack a bunch of minors is disgusting yet not surprising.

  • JakeTidmore
    January 20, 2019 at 7:54 p.m.

    Seems that the "vindication" comes from a highly biased source that twists and manipulates the story to its own purposes, etc. Nothing really contradicts the original story presented by Phillips or presents clear evidence that does so.
    Sorry, Packie. It's a cheap courtroom tactic from the rightwingers that has fooled you. Faux News for Faux-loving Americans.