Newstalk
Newstalk

11.40 20 Jan 2019


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A Catholic school in Kentucky has pledged to take “appropriate action” after a group of students wearing "Make America Great Again" caps were filmed mocking a Native American man in Washington DC.

Footage shared online shows students laughing and jeering as they surround Vietnam War veteran Nathan Phillips at an indigenous people’s demonstration.

The video shows one boy in particular standing directly in front of the 64-year-old and staring into his face for a prolonged period as he beats his drum and sings.

Mr Phillips was in the US capital for the Indigenous Peoples March while the pupils were there for an anti-abortion event.

Some of the students can be heard chanting "build that wall" - in reference to the barrier President Trump wants to build on the Mexico border.

The boy who stood staring at Mr Phillips has since been identified as a student from Covington Catholic High School in Park Hills, Kentucky.

The school has issued a joint apology alongside the Diocese of Covington and has pledged to take "appropriate action, up to and including expulsion” over the incident.

"We extend our deepest apologies to Mr Phillips," they said.

"This behaviour is opposed to the Church's teachings on the dignity and respect of the human person."

In a video posted to Instagram, Mr Phillips wiped tears away as he said: "When I was there singing, I heard them saying 'Build that wall, build that wall.'

"This is indigenous lands. We're not supposed to have walls here. We never did."

 
 
 
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nathan phillips 🕊

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Marcus Frejo, a member of the Pawnee and Seminole tribes who is known as Chief Quese Imc, said at the end of the march students had started chanting "Make America Great Again" - the president's rallying call.

He said they also did the haka, a traditional Maori dance, which Mr Frejo felt they were mocking, before they broke up and walked away.

Republican Deb Haaland, who is a member of the Pueblo of Lagana and also a Catholic, placed some blame on Mr Trump who has used the name Pocahontas as a jibe against Senator Elizabeth Warren.

"It is sad that we have a president who uses Native American women's names as racial slurs and that's an example that these kids are clearly following considering the fact that they had their 'Make America Great Again' hats on," she said.


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