Native American elder Nathan Phillips was live with Savannah Guthrie on the Today Show on Thursday, a day after Nicholas Sandmann was interviewed on the same show. Phillips said that while he is still angry about the incident with Covington Catholic high school students that went viral over the weekend, he has forgiveness for the students and the chaperones involved in the incident.
Phillips is seen on videos that went viral, walking between a crowd of Covington Catholic students and a group of Black Hebrew Israelites, beating a drum and chanting a prayer.
Phillips, 64, of Ypsilanti, Michigan, is a Native American elder of the Omaha tribe who was in Washington, D.C. for the Indigenous Peoples March. Phillips has said that he put himself between the two groups to diffuse the situation.
“Even though I’m still angry, I still have forgiveness in my heart for those students,” Phillips said.
Nicholas Sandman, the teen in the “Make America Great Again” hat who stands face-to-face with Phillips in the videos, was on the Today Show on Wednesday.
“Yesterday I woke up with all kinds of good feelings in my heart. For all those who’ve been mean to me, I want to forgive them,” Phillips said. He said he has received death threats.
When asked if Phillips felt that Nick should apologize, Phillips said “yes.” Phillips said he would still be interested in speaking with the students involved and the chaperones.
Phillips also confirmed on the Today Show that students were chanting “build the wall,” despite it not being picked up on camera.
“I asked the young man this question. I’ll ask you the same thing. Do you think, sir, that you should have walked away?” Guthrie asked.
“That’s what I was trying to do,” Phillips replied.
In the videos of the incident, Phillips walks toward the group of students chanting and singing, as he approaches the students, they quickly circle him. Phillps said he was trying to walk through the crowd when Nick stood in his way.
On the Today Show, Phillips said he felt that Nick’s statement was coached and lacked sincerity and responsibility. It’s a sentiment he also shared with The Enquirer.
“I have read the statement from Nick Sandmann, the student who stared at me for a long time. He did not apologize, and I believe there are intentional falsehoods in his testimony,” Phillips told the Enquirer earlier this week. “But I have faith that human beings can use a moment like this to find a way to gain understanding from one another.”
Nick had a pre-recorded segment on the Today Show on Wednesday with Savannah Guthrie.
Nick said he’s not sorry for standing in front of Phillips, with what some have characterized as a smirk on his face. He said he would like to meet Phillips and have a chance to talk with him.
“He (Sandmann) needs to put out a different statement,” Phillips told The Cincinnati Enquirer. “I’m disappointed with his statement. He didn’t accept any responsibility. That lack of responsibility, I don’t accept it.”
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