A video of Kentucky Catholic high school students wearing ‘MAGA’ hats and yelling over Native American marchers has gone viral after people called the teenagers’ behavior disrespectful.
According to local Louisville, Ky. news station WHAS 11, the students were in Washington D.C. on Friday for the March for Life anti-abortion rally on the National Mall. The Indigenous Peoples March, which aimed to “bring awareness to the injustices affecting Indigenous men, women, children and two spirits,” took place nearby.
Several videos posted on Twitter show the students, many wearing Covington Catholic High School sweatshirts and ‘Make America Great Again’ apparel, crowding the Native American marchers, yelling over them as they conduct a ceremony for fallen veterans. In one video, a teen stares down a Native American elder for about a minute.
Indian Country Today said the elderly protester in the video is Nathan Phillips, an Omaha-based Vietnam veteran who holds an annual ceremony honoring Native American veterans at the Arlington National Cemetery. Phillips is the former director of the Native Youth Alliance and a keeper of a ceremonial sacred pipe.
In an interview posted on Twitter, an emotional Phillips talked about what happened.
“When I was there singing I heard them saying ‘build that wall! build that wall!’” he said. “you know this is indigenous land, were not supposed to have walls here, we never did for a millennium before anyone else came here.”
Phillips added he wishes the young men he encountered would, “put their energy into making this country really great, helping those that are hungry.”
According to the Associated Press, a diocese in Kentucky is looking into the videos. Laura Keener of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Covington told AP on Saturday they regret the incident and are investigating.
One Twitter user said it was “one of the most horrific displays of ignorance, racism & disrespect.”
Kentucky’s Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes responded to the videos and said the actions do not represent the values of the state.
“In spite of these horrific scenes, I refuse to shame these children,” she posted. “Instead I turn to the adults that are teaching them and those that are silently letting others promote this behavior. This is not the Kentucky I know and love. We can do better and it starts with better leadership.”