The Kentucky student who stood inches from a Native American veteran’s face released a statement Sunday swearing he did nothing wrong.
According to Nick Sandmann, another group in the crowd were harassing the students and saying mean things to them. Those people harassing Sandmann were not with the Native protesters. So, it’s unclear why his anger was targeted at the older man, Nathan Phillips. Somehow that justifies the 10+ minutes that Sandmann stood inches from the face of Phillips with a creepy grin on his lips.
“I harbor no ill will for this person,” Sandmann said of 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. I believe he should re-think his tactics of invading the personal space of others, but that is his choice to make.”
Phillips said that he saw the scene unfold and he and others began drumming to try and defuse the fight between the students and four African American protestors who were on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. When he began drumming, the Catholic school students began chanting with Phillips and seemed to be supportive.
“At no time did I hear any student chant anything other than the school spirit chants,” Sandmann said in his letter.
Sandmann said that Phillips “locked eyes” with him and approached him, not the other way around.
“I never interacted with this protestor. I did not speak to him. I did not make any hand gestures or other aggressive moves. To be honest, I was startled and confused as to why he had approached me,” Sandmann said, unsure of why he was smiling in such a creepy way. “We had already been yelled at by another group of protestors, and when the second group approached I was worried that a situation was getting out of control where adults were attempting to provoke teenagers.”
Videos have since been released that show the context of the scene.