Monday, January 21, 2019

What happened with Covington Catholic / Nathan Phillips / House of Israel D.C.?

I hate to post all these more serious blogs over the past few months (I much prefer comic book talk), but it seems that’s how society is right now.  That’s how I am too, I guess.

It’s a constant political / economical / racial thought process because that’s what is plastered all over Twitter and in the media.

This weekend was different though.  It was really an eye-opener for me.  

I know that the people of the U.S. are divided on many issues.  Most people I know (of all races, genders and backgrounds) tend to continue on with daily life.  Entertainment and sports sometimes take focus and can kind of tuck away the differences we have.  

When everyone is talking about a football game or a UFC fight or which movie will get an Oscar, it’s easy to forget the vast difference of opinions we have and how two people can view the same situation entirely different.

I saw a video on Saturday that went viral.  The headlines read something like this: 'On Friday, during the Indigenous Peoples March, a group of Make America Great Again hat-wearing white Catholic teenagers surrounded a Vietnam war veteran / indigenous man while he was beating his drum and singing a Native prayer.'

So, basically, a MAGA hat-wearing punk confronted the man, stared him down and wouldn’t move out of his way.

I clicked on a Tweeted cell video that included a short interview with the man --- Nathan Phillips --- taken the evening this unfolded.  He heard singing and chants of ‘Build That Wall.’  He went on to talk emotionally (wiping tears from his eyes at times) talk about the state of the country.

I didn’t necessarily think much of it because: A) when isn’t there some kind of confrontation in the news? B) I know to take all news with a grain of salt and C) there’s no direct impact on my life.

That’s not to say that people aren’t impacted by things that don’t directly involve them.  There’s always something you can take away from a situation, especially if you take a few moments to empathize and reflect.

I carried a few thoughts about respect and cultural tension away with me when I clicked away from the tweet that described the situation in 160 characters or less.  

Mostly, I was disheartened that people couldn't converse with each other without confrontation during the various marches that happen.

But I continued on with my day (my laundry wasn’t going to take care of itself).

Later that evening, I was on YouTube and saw a couple of 2 or 3-minute cell phone videos that showed different angles of what happened.

From the video I saw, Nathan Phillips wasn’t surrounded by the students with the goal of impeding his way to the top of the Lincoln Memorial stairs.  He walked towards the group of high school students to begin with.  That didn't match a previous article that I read, but I didn't think much of it.

Then I saw another video. This video was a close-up of what happened (you can watch it here), while also providing a different angle.  From this video, Nathan Phillips approached a teen (at 00:23) while playing his drum and then (at approximately 00:46), he approached the now infamous man in the red hat.
I was confused because I wasn’t seeing the same thing that a bunch of tweets (enough to make it a trending topic on Saturday) indicated.

I read multiple articles about it, watched a CNN interview with Nathan Phillips and saw a tweet from WKRC reporter Adam Clements.  The tweet from Clements included a response from a student who was there at the Lincoln Memorial.

The story that was coming from one side wasn’t adding up with the story coming from the other side. The headlines and tweets weren’t matching the video I saw.  

Finally, I saw a video posted to YouTube that showed 1:46:18 worth of what happened (you can watch it here). The video was shot by House of Israel D.C. member Shar Yaqataz Banyamyan.  He apparently pulled it from social media, but not before someone else grabbed it.

So, I grabbed as much of the available cell phone footage of the incident that I could and put together a YouTube video: What happened with the Covington Catholic / Nathan Phillips situation?

On Sunday, Indian Country Today posted 4 videos to their Vimeo Channel (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4), so you can take a look at those to evaluate the situation further.

Here’s my analysis of what happened: