Nicholas Sandmann was a 17-year-old junior at Covington Catholic High School in Park Hills, Kentucky, when he accompanied his classmates to Washington D.C. in January 2019 to participate in the annual March for Life. The young man never suspected that his life would be turned upside down by a confrontation with a Native American activist on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. The event played out on television news and print media for days and weeks.
The young man, who recently graduated from Covington Catholic and headed to college this fall, has been tagged to speak at the Republican National Convention next week.
“I can’t tell you all enough about how excited I am to be a part of this years RNC!” Sandmann tweeted a few days ago.
I can’t tell you all enough about how excited I am to be apart of this years RNC! https://t.co/lur4zw1YS8
— Nicholas Sandmann (@N1ckSandmann) August 18, 2020
Sandmann and his classmates were waiting for their bus at the Lincoln Memorial after the March for Life activities concluded, which just happened to be the scene of a couple of unrelated demonstrations, one by a group calling itself the Hebrew Israelites and another by a group of Native Americans.
The high schoolers themselves became the subject of taunts and slurs from the nearby protesters, and one of them, Nathan Phillips, came over to Sandmann, who was wearing a red “Make America Great Again” baseball cap. As Phillips beat a drum in Sandmann’s face, the young man smiled at him and stood his ground. The incident was caught on video, and by that evening, edited clips were played and discussed in national media outlets, where Sandmann was portrayed as a smirking racist who was attempting to intimidate an elderly Native American.
Even his school and local diocese, in response to the day’s news reports, condemned Sandmann and his classmates, immediately promising an investigation and potential punishment of the students.
When a longer, unedited video later surfaced, it became plain that Phillips walked over to the young man and initiated the incident; Sandmann did nothing other than stand there and smile. By that time, however, the damage to his reputation from the negative, nationwide news reporting had been done.
The Covington High graduate’s family hired attorneys to sue the various news outlets that had allegedly defamed him, and recently settled claims against two of them, The Washington Post and CNN. The terms of the settlement are confidential. The remaining lawsuits continue.
The rising college freshman may have been wondering how to go about restoring his damaged reputation. The opportunity to speak to the nation at the Republican National Convention in a few days is a good place to start.
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