Friday 15 February 2019

Catholic school students 'face expulsion' over jeering of Native Americans in viral video

Covington Catholic High School in Kentucky. Photo: AP Photo/Bryan Woolston
Covington Catholic High School in Kentucky. Photo: AP Photo/Bryan Woolston

Adam Beam

Students at a Catholic school who were involved in a video showing them mocking Native Americans after a Washington rally could be expelled.

In a joint statement, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Covington and Covington Catholic High School apologised and said they were investigating and will take "appropriate action, up to and including expulsion".

The Indigenous Peoples March in Washington on Friday coincided with the March for Life, which drew thousands of anti-abortion protesters, including a group from Covington Catholic High School in Park Hills, Kentucky.

Videos circulating online show a teenage boy staring at and standing extremely close to Nathan Phillips, a 64-year-old Native American man singing and playing a drum. Other students, some wearing Covington clothing and many wearing 'Make America Great Again' hats and sweatshirts, surrounded them, chanting, laughing and jeering.

"We extend our deepest apologies to Mr Phillips," the diocese statement read.

"This behaviour is opposed to the Church's teachings on the dignity and respect of the human person."

Mr Phillips is an Omaha elder and Vietnam veteran who holds an annual ceremony honouring Native American veterans at Arlington National Cemetery.

Marcus Frejo, a member of the Pawnee and Seminole tribes who is also known as Chief Quese Imc, said he had been a part of the march and was among a small group of people remaining after the rally when the boisterous students began chanting slogans such as "make America great" and then began performing the Māori's haka dance. Mr Frejo said he felt they were mocking the dance.

The videos prompted a torrent of outrage online. Actress Alyssa Milano tweeted that the footage "brought me to tears", while actor Chris Evans tweeted that the students' actions were "appalling" and "shameful".

Irish Independent

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