Native American activist says he forgives boys in videos

  • A man places a sign showing support for the students of Covington Catholic Catholic High School in front of the Catholic Diocese of Covington in Covington, Ky., Tuesday, Jan 22, 2019. (AP Photo/Bryan Woolston)

  • Sleepy Eye Lafromboise, right, and his son Eshtakaba, both of the Sioux Nation, sing during a gathering of Native American supporters in front of the Catholic Diocese in Covington, Ky., Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2019. (AP Photo/Bryan Woolston)

  • FILE - In this Feb. 22, 2017, file photo, a large crowd representing a majority of the remaining Dakota Access Pipeline protesters, including Nathan Phillips, center with glasses, march out of the Oceti Sakowin camp before the deadline set for evacuation of the camp near Cannon Ball, N.D. Phillips says he felt compelled to get between a group of black religious activists and largely white students with his ceremonial drum to defuse a potentially dangerous situation at a rally in Washington. (Mike McCleary/The Bismarck Tribune via AP, File)

WASHINGTON — Native American activist Nathan Phillips said he has prayed about a videotaped encounter last week at the Lincoln Memorial and now he has good feelings in his heart for all the people who mistreated him.

So even though he’s angry, Phillips told NBC’s “Today” show on Thursday that he has forgiveness for the boys from Kentucky’s Covington Catholic High School who he said could be seen mocking Native Americans in videos.

Phillips said the white boys were angrily chanting at a group of black street preachers, and “it was really getting explosive.” So he said he used his drum to reach God, and felt “spiritually moved into that center, that whirlwind.”

Phillips said the Native Americans soon found themselves surrounded by the boys. “We were blocked,” he said.

Nick Sandmann, the student who stood directly in front of Phillips in cellphone video widely seen online, told the “Today” show on Wednesday he had nothing to apologize for — that he too was trying to keep things calm, and didn’t say or do anything disrespectful.

Criticism has been widespread since videos showed the students, some wearing “Make America Great Again” hats, facing off against the Omaha Nation elder. Both school officials and the Native Americans involved have said they’ve received death threats since the encounter. But the various sides say they’ve been misunderstood and that partial images were taken out of context.

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