On the 18thJanuary 2019, a video was posted online in what appeared to be Nicholas Sandmann a Covington Catholic high school student and his school mates mocking and harassing Nathan Phillips a native American elder as he sang and played the drum at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC.
The Covington high school Lawsuits
-By Heather McDonald
On the 18th January 2019, a video was posted online in what appeared to be Nicholas Sandmann a Covington Catholic high school student and his school mates mocking and harassing Nathan Phillips a native American elder as he sang and played the drum at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC.
Some of his schoolmates also donning MAGA hats had surrounded the two as Philips continued playing his drum with Sandmann appearing to make fun of him. The late afternoon confrontation occurred at the end of two rallies that had taken place on the same day at the National Mall.
The Covington Catholic high school students were on an annual school trip to take part in the Pro-life March for Life rally, a peaceful demonstration whose goal according to their website is “to share the truth concerning the greatest human rights violation of our time; legalized abortion on demand.” The kids were assembling to take buses back home after the march.
Nathan Philips was among a group of Native Americans also attending the Indigenous Peoples March at the same location. There was also another group present; the Black Hebrew Israelites who were mocking the students by shouting homophobic and racist innuendos.
The first videos were barely a minute long and were posted by participants at the Indigenous peoples March on the evening of Friday 18th, 2019. They did not include the moments and events that transpired before and after the incident. They only showed a drumming Phillips surrounded by a bunch of Covington high school students in MAGA hats. The videos gave the impression that Phillips was being mocked and harassed by the students.
On January 20th, Phillips clarified that he had voluntarily approached the students in an attempt to defuse what he described as a volatile situation between the students and the Black Hebrew Israelites. The short videos were widely shared on social media platforms such as Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube and quickly went viral. Initially, the outrage was directed at Covington high school and its students. The mainstream media, by and large, took it upon themselves to turbocharge the situation by placing all the blame on Covington kids. As more videos continued to be released, different views emerged in regards to what really happened. The incident generated a lot of outrage in the coming weeks.
The Media began the story coverage on January 18th, in a rejoinder to the now viral videos on social media. After a few days, more information became available which included longer videos and statements from spokespersons of the different parties directly involved. Most Media houses had to revise their initial views and took different paths in the narrative.
The media came under fire for basing their reporting on the initial social media short videos which did not have sufficient facts. After interviewing the participants, the true chronology of events started emerging. It finally became clear that the taunts from the Black Hebrew Israelites had taken center stage even before Nathan Phillips came on the scene.
Full video release
An hour and a half long video was subsequently released on Sunday, January 20th which shed more light on what had transpired. It showed five Black Hebrew Israelites clearly taunting the Covington kids. Kaya Taitano, a student at the University of the District of Columbia had uploaded the initial one-minute video on Instagram and the same video was later reposted to Twitter via the handle 2020fightunder the title “This MAGA loser gleefully bothering a Native American protestor at the Indigenous peoples March”
The organizers of the March for life had earlier criticized the student’s behavior after the short video release but changed their tune after the long video brought to light new information. They rescinded their earlier criticism of The Covington Catholic high school students and admitted that there was more to the story than the original video had depicted.
Covington high school statement
After the event took place, the Covington Catholic Communications director issued a statement to address the issue. In the statement, he regretted that the event had taken place and extended an apology to Philips. He also promised that action would be taken against the students after a review of the situation, and even vowed that expulsion of students found culpable was on the table.
On January 25th, the Covington Diocese Bishop apologized to Sandmann saying that they had allowed themselves to be bullied and pressured into making a statement without being aware of all the facts; referring to the communication director’s previous statement. The school had to close for a day for fear of violence after numerous threats.
Retractions of Covington high school statements
Over 50 individuals who attacked the Covington kids after the 18thJanuary incident and failed to retract their statements are in trouble. They have most probably found themselves facing charges after the lawyers for Nick Sandmann sent legal letters to Media houses, journalists, Celebrities, and Catholic organizations in the initial stages of libel and defamation lawsuits. The individuals include Presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren, actress Alyssa Milano, Journalists Ana Cabrera, Maggie Haberman, and David Brooks.
Some of the individuals who retracted their statements include Freshman Democrat Minnesota Representative Ilhan Omar, who deleted a tweet she had posted. Anti-Trump actress Kathy Griffin whose career suffered after she posted an image of herself with the decapitated head of President Trump also retracted a photo tweet she had made in reference to the Covington kids, and a hand gesture she had misconstrued to be white supremacist but was, in fact, a harmless three-point basketball sign.
Covington Catholic high school Lawsuits
Nick Sandmann is being represented by Todd McMurtry a Covington based lawyer, Hemmer DeFrank Wessels and by L.Lin Wood an Atlanta based Attorney who has previously been involved in high profile defamation lawsuits. Nick Sandmann’s legal team has filed two high profile lawsuits both totaling to $525 million targeting the media houses such as CNN and The Washington Post.
The first lawsuit filed in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky against CNN claims that the media house exalted false atrocious accusations of racist conduct against Nick Sandmann and failed to adhere to journalistic standards and ethics. The lawyers claim that Sandmann’s character had been judged from the falsehoods peddled by CNN following their widespread coverage of their client.
Sandmann’s legal teams accuse CNN of not undertaking any reasonable efforts to verify the accusations against their client before proceeding with the publication, citing nine online articles and four television broadcasts. It further accuses CNN of ignoring facts and instead pursuing the false story in an obvious vendetta against Trump. Sandman is seeking $70 million for emotional distress, reputational harm and mental anguish and $200 million in punitive damages.
On February 19th, lawyers representing Nick sandman’s family also filed a $250 million dollar lawsuit against the Washington Post. The lawsuit is asking for $50 million in compensatory damages and $200 in punitive damages. The lawsuit claims that the Washington post published no less than six false and defamatory articles against Sandmann concerning the January 18thincident. The lawsuit further claims that the newspaper published the falsehoods in an effort to also advance other agendas against President Donald Trump.
The claim of $250 million dollars is equivalent to the amount Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos paid for the newspaper when he bought it six years ago. Bezos is seen as a critic of president Trump and the suit accuses the newspaper of pushing a detailed and partisan agenda against the president.
The Covington incident video was manipulated to stir negative emotions and manufacture a left-wing agenda. Parts of the video were deliberately cut to portray the Covington boys as the aggressors. After the release of the full video, it was quite clear that the boys were victims of the real attackers who were the Black Hebrew Israelites; a black nationalist cult group.
The kids wearing the MAGA hats and getting involved in an alleged altercation with a Native American veteran was perfect fodder for left-wing news outlets to go after Trump and the right-wing. The kids probably had no idea they would be obvious targets for Anti trump left-wingers when they bought and wore the souvenir red hats after their visit to the Nation’s capital. Left-wing actress Alyssa even tweeted that the red MAGA hat was the new white hood in reference to the hoods donned by the Ku Klux Klan a white supremacist group.
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The boys became targets simply because of their support for President Trump who won in Kentucky by a 30-point margin over Hillary Clinton. Senate majority leader Mitch O’Connell addressed the issue by saying that when the rush for headlines takes precedence over facts, mistakes are made and our rights as Americans are put at risk, more so when kids are involved.
Newspapers sales have been on a gradual decline courtesy of the internet and most people now prefer to read their news online. Newspapers now need to have paid online subscriptions to survive. Attracting readers for newspapers has become a tough business in this very competitive environment and hence manufacturing fake news is becoming common in order to maintain and attract more readers.