Adults who served as chaperones for the Covington Catholic High School students who were sucked into a social media frenzy over a viral video said that the students were the victims in the incident.
On Saturday, after the annual March for Life, several students from the Catholic high school became embroiled in an incident with a Native American man and a group of Black Hebrew Israelites. One short section of the initial video from the encounter spawned threats and condemnations of the students, although a fuller view of the incident has led many to revise that conclusion.
Val Andreev, a parent and a chaperone, told the Cincinnati Enquirer that the group of teens wearing “Make America Great Again” hats provided a very visible target for others.
“Our boys were set up for this event,” Andreev said. “It was staged.”
Other parents were also clear that the boys wanted no part of any fight.
“Our boys did nothing. No violence. They did not attack those gentlemen. They stood there waiting for their bus,” Jim Wilson told WKRC.
Wilson noted that curiosity may have been misinterpreted by those at the scene.
“They were curious of those men, so I got in between those men and the boys and pushed the boys back,” Wilson said. “Eventually, I could get eight to 10 of the boys that knew me, and I said, “We need to get out of here.”
“Our boys were targeted,” Jill Hamlin, a Covington Catholic parent and chaperone, told WKRC.
“I think they were also targeted for what they stood for, which is Christianity, the right for life, and they were singled out and I believe partially because of the color of their skin they were targeted,” she added in an interview with “Fox & Friends.”
“We were all just gathered on the steps. You know, we had obviously heard the horrific insults that were thrown at our children by the Black Hebrew Israelites and the boys were gathered on the steps,” she said. “I don’t know why Nathan Phillips chose Nick Sandmann. I think he would have targeted anyone but maybe it was because Nick Sandmann had the courage to look this man in the face and he tried to diffuse the situation by not reacting. And by standing there respectfully.”
“We were not there for any other purpose other than to attend the peaceful March for Life which we did,” she added.
She said students resorted to a school cheer to “drown out the hatred.”
“We were standing there and we looked and all of a sudden they turned their attention to our group and they were screaming horrible, horrible things that I will not repeat to our children … to children. Not adults. They were screaming them at children,” she said. “This continued. And the boys asked if they could do one of their school cheers because they wanted to drown out the hatred that was being said to them. And one of our teachers said it was okay for them to do their cheer. We wanted to drown out the hate.”
“They were targeted from the get-go. Immediately there were all these people running around filming,” she said.
With so much film from the perspective of others, she said, “this isn’t going to be a truthful depiction of what happened.”
Hamlin said she was surprised the boys proved as tough as they were, under the circumstances.
“I can’t believe they even stayed and listened to the vitriol and the hatred that was being shouted at them. As a mother, it was horrible, horrible,” she said.
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