School closes amid fallout over videos


Associated Press

COVINGTON, Ky.

A Kentucky boys’ school shut down its campus Tuesday as a precaution and a small protest was held outside their diocese as fallout continued over an encounter involving white teenagers, Native American marchers and a black religious sect outside the Lincoln Memorial last week.

President Donald Trump tweeted early Tuesday that the students at Covington Catholic High School “have become symbols of Fake News and how evil it can be” but says he hopes the teens will use the attention for good, and “maybe even to bring people together.”

The recorded images that initially generated outrage on social media were tightly focused on the students wearing “Make America Great Again” hats, who seemed to laugh derisively as they surrounded an elderly Native American beating a drum.

Longer videos from wider perspectives emerged later over the Martin Luther King holiday weekend. They revealed the drummer – Omaha Nation elder Nathan Phillips – had intervened between the boys and the religious sect. That came after the teens seemed to grow rowdier and the black street preacher who had been shouting racist statements against both groups escalated his rhetoric.

Soon, all sides were pointing fingers, giving their own accounts about feeling victimized and misunderstood.

“We just don’t know what the volatility of the situation is with these people that react and they don’t know the full story. And it’s very scary,” Jill Hamlin of Cincinnati, a chaperone for the boys as they attended an anti-abortion rally, told FOX News on Tuesday morning.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Covington said in a statement late Tuesday that local police alerted them a protest was planned. It said officials were advised to close school “due to threats of violence and the possibility of large crowds,” adding they would reopen school when police “say it is safe to do so.”

The diocese, which previously criticized the students’ behavior, promised to begin its investigation of events this week.

“This is a very serious matter that has already permanently altered the lives of many people. It is important for us to gather the facts that will allow us to determine what corrective actions, if any, are appropriate.”

The school and the diocese websites were taken offline.

The American Indian Movement Chapter of Indiana and Kentucky had a small protest outside the diocese office, with activists outnumbered by the media.

Albert Running Wolf, a Native American from Fort Thomas, Ky., referred to Nathan Phillips during the event as “an honorable man” who was trying to be a peacemaker, but ended up being verbally attacked. He said Phillips deserves an apology.

“It doesn’t matter what color they were, what political factions they were. It was disrespect – straightforward.”

Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin also weighed in, tweeting it “was amazing how quick those who preach tolerance and non-judgment of others were to judge and label some high school students based on partial information.” His tweet concluded: “A little more genuine caring for one another and a little less digital vitriol would be good for all.”