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Infamous Covington Catholic school student gives his side on "Today"

Nick Sandmann speaks about that day now immortalized on video.
Photo credit:
The Today Show

It what might be the most polarizing event open to interpretation of 2019; a stand-off between a Catholic high schooler in a MAGA hat and a Native American man that took place on the Lincoln Memorial steps continues to divide opinions. But at least for the student, he got to tell his side on the Today show this past Wednesday. 

In the now infamous picture culled from viral videos, 16-year-old Nick Sandmann and Nathan Phillips, a tribal leader and Vietnam veteran go face-to-face, Phillips beating a drum while Sandmann smiles just inches from his face wearing a red Trump affiliated baseball cap.  

As the story broke, initial reports were that Sandmann was on a field trip with other Covington Catholic boys attending a pro-life rally when Philips with drum in hand was met with disrespect from the students who allegedly chanted "build the wall." 

But as details became more available it appeared that a group of Black Hebrew Israelites were the kindling that led to the faceoff as they shouted homophobic and provocative vitriol. Philips, trying to diffuse the escalating temperament placed himself between the kids and the Israelites.  

In the Today Show interview, Sandmann claims that the Israelites did, in fact, taunt them by saying "a lot of hateful things" 

“They started shouting a lot of homophobic, racist, derogatory comments at us,” Sandmann said in the interview. “I heard them call us incest kids, bigots, racists, fa**ots.” The teen says he “definitely felt threatened.” 

The school's chaperone then allegedly advised the kids to start chanting their school spirit song. That's when Philips entered and the result is what you see on the now-viral video. 

In the interview, Sandmann says he was confused by Philip's approach but felt it was his right to be there too.

“I just wish he would have walked away, but I knew as long as I kept my composure and didn’t do anything that he might perceive as aggressive or elevation of the conflict, that it would hopefully die,” Sandmann said. 

It's only in hindsight that Sandmann says he wished he would have walked away himself.

As for the MAGA hats the kids were wearing, Sandmann claims he had only just bought his earlier that day and wasn't worn as an expression of racism.

“We’re a Catholic school and it’s not tolerated,” Sandmann said. “They don’t tolerate racism and none of my classmates are racists.” 

Watch the interview with Sandmann below.