A Catholic archdiocese is reportedly considering taking disciplinary action against some of its high school students after they were captured in a video harassing a Native American troupe during the Indigenous Peoples March Friday.
NBC News reported that the Diocese of Covington condemned some of its students that attend Covington Catholic High School in Covington, Ky., after they were seen surrounding and taunting the troupe.
Laura Keener, a spokeswoman for the archdiocese, specifically addressed the students’ actions towards Nathan Phillips, an Omaha elder who was surrounded by the teens as he beat a drum and sang during the march, and condemned them for their behavior towards “Native Americans in general” in a statement seen by the news agency.
"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.," the statement read.
"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 statement continued.
The archdiocese also confirmed that the incident was under investigation and that the some of the students involved could face expulsion for their actions.
During the incident on Friday, Phillips, 64, could be seen in numerous videos online being confronted by the teens. One viral video that has since been widely circulated online shows a teen standing in the drummer’s face wearing a smirk while Phillips continues to sing.
Phillips told The Washington Post after the incident that he felt threatened by the teens during the ordeal.
“It was getting ugly, and I was thinking: ‘I’ve got to find myself an exit out of this situation and finish my song at the Lincoln Memorial,’ ” Phillips told The Post. “I started going that way, and that guy in the hat stood in my way and we were at an impasse. He just blocked my way and wouldn’t allow me to retreat.”
Phillips also said he is still “trying to process what happened” after the incident and is “feeling a little bit overwhelmed.”
“That energy could be turned into feeding the people, cleaning up our communities and figuring out what else we can do,” Phillips continued. “We need the young people to be doing that instead of saying: ‘These guys are our enemies.’ ”
A University of the District of Columbia student who took the videos told CNN that the students were first involved in a back-and-forth of yelling and name-calling with a group of young African-Americans nearby.
The student, Kata Taitano, told CNN that Phillips attempted to stop the situation from escalating by stepping in, playing his drum and chanting a healing prayer.
Taitano said that Phillips’s efforts to defuse the situation were successful until he reached the boy in the video, who she said “just refused to move and he just got in Nathan's face.”
Detroit Free Press reporter Niraj Warikoo also reported that Phillips said the students were harassing a group of black people. Phillips reportedly said that the MAGA hat-wearing teens had a “scary” “mob mentality.”
--Avery Anapol contributed to this report, which was updated on Jan. 20 at 8:46 a.m.