JAN. 21, 2019
By Alex Johnson
The young man at the center of what has been described as a hostile confrontation with an Omaha tribal elder last week denounced what he called "outright lies" on Sunday, saying he was actually trying to remain calm to defuse the tense situation.
"I am the student in the video who was confronted by the Native American protestor," the young man, Nick Sandmann, a junior at Covington Catholic High School in Covington, Kentucky, said in a statement his family issued through a public relations firm.
(Warning: strong language.)
The widely circulated video shows young men, many of them wearing Make America Great Again hats, appearing to surround a Native American troupe as it performs a song about strength and courage at the Indigenous Peoples March in Washington on Friday afternoon.
Sandmann has become the face of the apparent confrontation, smiling silently only a foot or two from the face of Nathan Phillips, a Vietnam War veteran and prominent activist for indigenous people's causes.
Critics have characterized the young man as smirking and trying to stare down Phillips. But other, longer videos have complicated the narrative, suggesting that there was jeering by a separate group of people before the incident recorded on the most widely circulated video.
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