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Covington Catholic reopens amid criticism over video-recorded encounter

Protestors gather outside the Catholic Diocese of Covington Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2019, in Covington, Ky. The diocese in Kentucky has apologized after videos emerged showing students from Covington Catholic High School mocking Native Americans outside the Lincoln Memorial on Friday after a rally in Washington. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

PARK HILLS, Ky. (AP) — A Catholic high school student whose close encounter with a Native American activist and a black religious sect was captured on video in Washington, D.C. says he has nothing to apologize for.

Nick Sandmann told NBC's "Today" show on Wednesday that he had every right to be there, as did the others who gathered in front of the Lincoln Memorial. He said he wasn't disrespectful and was trying to stay calm under the circumstances.

Videos posted of Sandmann and his classmates wearing "Make America Great Again" hats and facing off against Omaha Nation elder Nathan Phillips have sparked widespread criticism. But the various sides say they've been misunderstood and that snippets of video were taken out of context.

Many saw the white teenagers, who had traveled to Washington for an anti-abortion rally, appearing to mock the Native Americans. Others interpreted Phillips' drumming and singing as a hostile act.

Both Sandmann and Phillips have since said they were trying to keep the peace in a volatile situation.

Sandmann said he isn't racist and for that matter, racism isn't tolerated at Covington Catholic High School. Phillips has offered to visit the school and lead a dialogue about cultural understanding.

The boys school was reopening Wednesday under extra security measures after officials closed the campus Tuesday as a precaution.

A letter to parents sent by school officials said that if they don't feel comfortable sending their sons back to class, they will "understand this viewpoint during this difficult time period."



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