Metro Detroit man at center of viral video showing teen 'taunt' Native American

By Priya Mann - Reporter

DETROIT - A Metro Detroit man, who is also a Native American activist, is at the center of a viral video which shows him being taunted by teens at a march in Washington, D.C.

The video shows a teen, wearing a Make America Great Again hat, smirking at the Native American elder during a protest at the Lincoln Memorial.

Both the man and teen responded to the incident, one which caused a video to go viral.

“When I was there and saw the group in front of me and the angry faces and all of that, I realized I had put myself in a really dangerous situation,” Nathan Phillips said.

Phillips said he was trying to keep the peace between a small group of African American protesters and teens participating in the March for Life rally.

“Here's a group of people who were angry at somebody else and I put myself in front of that,“ Phillips said. “You know, that was scary.”

The Kentucky teen seen in the video is Covington Catholic High School junior Nick Sandmann.

He released a statement Sunday, which reads, in part:

“I never understood why either of the two groups of protesters were engaging with us … We were simply there to meet a bus, not become central players in a media spectacle.”

Sandmann said contrary to earlier reports, his friends never chanted "build that wall.”

Instead, he said, they were yelling school spirit chants to drown out negative comments from protesters. 

Sandmann said the viral video is misleading.

“I was not intentionally making faces at the protestor,” Sandmann said in his statement. “I did smile at one point, because I wanted him to know that I was not going to become angry, intimidated or be provoked into a larger confrontation.”

“I’m a Vietnam veteran, and I know that mentality of ‘there's enough of us — we can do this,’” Phillips said.

Sandmann responded, saying, “I thank him for his service and am grateful to anyone who puts on the uniform to defend our nation. If anyone has earned the right to speak freely, it is a U.S. Marine veteran.”

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