'I respected him': MAGA hat-wearing teen speaks out on confrontation with Native American protester

The Make America Great Again hat-wearing teenager thrown into the national spotlight after appearing to mock a Native American man during a demonstration doesn't believe he was disrespectful.

On Sunday, video emerged showing a group of students from Covington Catholic High School in Washington DC on Friday (local time) at an anti-abortion march.

During the protest, they ran into the Indigenous Peoples March and appeared to mock the Native American elders - including with a haka. Others dispute that however, saying the boys were not at fault and were approached with hostility by the Native Americans.

Speaking to the Today show, Nick Sandmann - who became the face of the high school students after being filmed staring down indigenous protester Nathan Philips - said he didn't believe he had been disrespectful.

"As far as standing there, I had every right to do so. My position is that I wasn't disrespectful to Mr Phillips, I respect him, I would like to talk to him," he said.

"I didn't want to be disrespectful to Mr Phillips and walk away if he was trying to talk to me. But I was surrounded by a lot of people I didn't know that had their phones out, had cameras, and I didn't want to bump into anyone or seem like I was trying to do something," Mr Sandmann said, reports Vanity Fair.

Mr Sandmann has also refused to apologise and said the attention he had received from the incident had been "terrible" - including receiving death threats.

Mr Phillips told NBC the teenager had been blocking his way, scaring him.

"The actions that he was involved in, you know, who allows the children to treat others that way? Who teaches our children that? What was in their minds? You know, chants of 'build the wall' and other things that were even worse," he said.

The video of the incident Mr Sandman staring at Mr Phillips has gone viral, polarising people on social media and even leading to the US President to remark that the high school students had "become symbols of Fake News" due to being "smeared by media" who made "early judgements proving out to be false".

The Diocese of Covington and Covington Catholic High School have apologised to the march's attendees, saying that the teenagers' actions had "tainted" the event and "we will take appropriate action, up to and including expulsion".

"We extend our deepest apologies to Mr Phillips. This behaviour is opposed to the Church's teachings on the dignity and respect of the human person."


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