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21 Jan, 2019 02:35

Viral VIDEO of standoff between Native American & MAGA-hat-wearing boys splits America

Viral VIDEO of standoff between Native American & MAGA-hat-wearing boys splits America

Footage of a Native American elder seemingly facing off against a crowd of jeering high-school students wearing 'Make American Great Again' hats triggered a massive backlash – but turned out to have been taken way out of context.

The videos that initially flooded social media on Friday showed an elderly man beating a hand-drum, surrounded by a crowd of high-school students, who can be seen jumping around and cheering. One boy in particular is seen standing very close to the man with what many considered to be an unabashed smirk on his face.

No slogans or chants can be heard in the videos, although some of the uploaders said the students were chanting "Build the Wall!" and mocking the elderly man, who turned out to be Nathan Phillips, a 64-year-old Vietnam War veteran and Native American elder.

The incident took place near the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC, where the Indigenous People's Day March coincided with an anti-abortion March for Life. The boys in the video were from the Covington Catholic High School in Park Hills, Kentucky, who had attended March for Life event and were apparently waiting for buses to pick them up.

Phillips then appeared in another Instagram video, in which he said: "When I was there singing, I heard them saying 'Build that wall, build that wall.'

"This is indigenous lands. We're not supposed to have walls here. We never did," he said, while wiping away tears.

The story was instantly scooped up by liberal-minded mainstream media outlets. The elder gave an interview to CNN, in which he said that he had "fear for those youths, fear for their future, fear for their souls, their spirit, what they're going to do to this country."

The story provoked a massive wave of outrage as many people were quick to condemn the boys for their "hatred" and express their support for the man.

Politicians and celebrities also joined the chorus of critics as they added their weight to the issue. The fact that many of the boys were wearing hats with US President Donald Trump's slogan "Make America Great Again" added fuel to the fire and gave the whole issue a political edge.

The Covington Diocese and school administrators quickly caved into issuing an apology, condemning the actions of the students and vowing to investigate the case, floating the possible expulsion of the boys.

Almost immediately, numerous people rallied to the students' defense, revealing evidence that the story wasn't as clear-cut as the mainstream media had rushed to portray. Footage taken from another angle was posted online, which showed that the Native American was the first to approach the students. It was he who moved close to the boy in the video and "wielded a metal drum stick in the student's face," as some people put it.

One of the boys said in a letter to media that it had been the Native Americans who "forced their way into the center of our group," and now his friend was "facing expulsion for simply standing still."

Another letter, which was allegedly sent by the mother of one of the boys to another US media outlet, dismissed the whole incident as "fake news" and said that the boys were instead harassed by a group of black people "yelling profanities."

A separate, nearly two-hour-long video indeed shows a group of African Americans standing not far from the crowd of school children. The group, identified in the video as Black Hebrew Israelites, can be heard hurling insults and obscenities at the Catholic school boys (example at 1:07:46 in the video).

Faced with backlash from the initial outrage, CNN was forced to look at the story more closely and release a report detailing what preceded the confrontation between the "MAGA kids" and elder Nathan Phillips. While admitting the tension was first started by the African American group, they repeated Phillips' soundbites about feeling threatened and fearing for the schoolboys' souls.

Other outlets and personalities also backtracked, some more cautiously than others.

It remains unclear whether Covington Catholic High will now abandon the idea of punishing the students or whether Philips' statements will face additional scrutiny – but the confusing mix of ethnic, political & religious tension, "fake news" and the unstoppable power of social media is already looking like a solid contender for America's "peak 2019" moment. And it's only January.

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