March for Life apologizes for ‘rush to judgement’ on Covington boys
WASHINGTON, D.C., January 28, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – More than a week after condemning the Covington Catholic High School students after reports claimed a video showed them harassing a Native American man, the March for Life has apologized for its “rush to judgment and initial statement based on incomplete and misleading information.”
March for Life President Jeanne Mancini initially called the boys’ alleged behavior “reprehensible” on January 19, but the March for Life deleted that statement the next day.
Extended video and firsthand accounts soon revealed the Native American man, Nathan Phillips, was the one who waded into the group waiting for its bus and decided to beat a drum inches from student Nick Sandmann’s face, and other adults who accompanied Phillips shouted racial taunts at the kids. The kids had been performing school cheers in an attempt to drown out the harassment, and did not respond to adults’ insults and abuse in kind.
As the original narrative began to fall apart, the March for Life released two tweets on January 20 saying, “Given recent developments regarding the incident on Friday evening, March for Life has deleted its original tweet and removed our statement on this matter from our website. It is clear from new footage and additional accounts that there is more to this story than the original video captured. We will refrain from commenting further until the truth is understood.”
“For our rush to judgment and initial statement based on incomplete and misleading information, we apologize. The facts that have since come to light reveal that the boys from Covington Catholic experienced some real and inexcusable intimidation, insults, and harassment,” the March for Life’s statement Monday evening said. “We have tremendous respect for the schools, families and young people who travel long distances and make sacrifices to attend the March each year. In the future, when it comes to the accuracy of breaking news reports or social media coverage of the March, we will not trust, we will verify.”
The Covington students’ lives have been forever altered by the death threats, media attacks, and doxxing they endured. A lawyer representing about a dozen families and all of the classmates who were slandered has said his clients are pursuing monetary compensation for damages.
President Trump has come out in support of the boys, saying the media “smeared” them and made them “symbols of Fake News and how evil it can be.” A number of other pro-life politicians, such as Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and Rep. Thomas Massie, and Sen. Ted Cruz have come to the students’ defense.
More information has also come to light about Nathan Phillips, including that he did not actually serve in Vietnam as he and multiple media outlets reported he did, has a violent criminal record, and attempted to lead protestors in disrupting Mass at the Basilica of National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception – where many pro-life events take place around the March for Life – just one day after he confronted Sandmann.
The March for Life’s full statement is below:
“After our peaceful rally and March on the afternoon of Friday, January 18, an unfortunate incident took place that evening at the Lincoln Memorial. The March for Life learned of this incident Saturday afternoon, January 19. Based upon incomplete information, we made a statement critical of the behavior of the students from Covington Catholic High School. As further information came, we retracted our initial statement on January 20 and indicated a further statement would follow once more facts came to light.
For our rush to judgment and initial statement based on incomplete and misleading information, we apologize. The facts that have since come to light reveal that the boys from Covington Catholic experienced some real and inexcusable intimidation, insults, and harassment. We have tremendous respect for the schools, families and young people who travel long distances and make sacrifices to attend the March each year. In the future, when it comes to the accuracy of breaking news reports or social media coverage of the March, we will not trust, we will verify.
For 46 years the March for Life has been a place where millions have enjoyed their First Amendment rights to freely speak and assemble. The young people who come to the March for Life each year stand up peacefully and joyfully in defense of the unborn, while also grieving for the 60 million lives lost to abortion since Roe v. Wade – sisters and brothers missing from their own generation whom they will never know. These young people should be encouraged and respected by adults in our society. While this incident has impacted many, it will not stop our work to build a culture of life. We will continue to exercise our first amendment rights in defense of the unborn, as we have done peacefully for so many years.”