22 Jan 2019

US teen denies mocking Native American

10:25 am on 22 January 2019

A teenager involved in a controversial encounter between a Native American man and a crowd of students has spoken out.

Student Nick Sandmann stands close staring at Omaha elder Nathan Phillips.

Student Nick Sandmann stands close staring at Omaha elder Nathan Phillips. Photo: Photo / Kaya Taitano

A video appeared to show some of the boys laughing and jeering as Omaha elder Nathan Phillips sang and drummed in Washington.

The footage, which went viral, led to widespread criticism of the boys.

However, additional video footage has provided further details of the incident, while student Nick Sandmann has denied mocking Mr Phillips.

"I did not make any hand gestures or aggressive moves," he said. "I believed that by remaining motionless and calm, I was helping to diffuse [sic] the situation."

At least three groups appear to have been involved in Friday's incident.

Students from Kentucky's Covington Catholic High School, who had finished taking part in March for Life, an anti-abortion rally, had gathered at the Lincoln Memorial. The group of teenagers was predominantly white, and many wore Make America Great Again caps.

Mr Phillips and many other Native American activists were also at the memorial, having taken part in the Indigenous Peoples March.

Meanwhile, a group of black men, who called themselves Hebrew Israelites, were at the scene. Video footage shows them shouting insults at many people, including Native Americans, as well as the schoolboys.

As the group shouted at the students, some of the teenagers began chanting, and one of them took his top off.

Mr Phillips then approached the students, singing and beating a drum, in what he called a prayer to defuse tensions.

He was surrounded by the students, some of whom began chanting and singing as well.

A short video emerged showing Mr Sandmann smiling and standing directly in front of Mr Phillips as he beat the drum. Other students laughed, shouted and clapped along.

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