The Controversy at Lincoln Memorial

A viral video emerged January 18 of a crowd of Covington Catholic High School students in what appears to be a standoff with a Native American protester at the foot of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. The students were recorded wearing Make America Great Again hats as they crowded around a small group of Indigenous Peoples. One Native individual, Nathan Phillips, beat his drum in protest to the high schooler’s taunts and yells.

Nathan Phillips

Nathan Philip and Nick Sandmann come face to face at the Lincoln Memorial

Courtesy Kaya Taitano via Instagram 


The students from Covington High School were visiting the Lincoln Memorial in Washington to participate in the March for Life rally that was taking place that day, which also coincided with the First Indigenous People’s March. The Covington High School students’ chants included “Build That Wall” and mocking the song to Philips sang and drummed. There was also a Covington student seen doing the “Tomahawk” chop. The focus of the viral video is on Covington junior, Nick Sandmann, as he stands smirking in the face of Phillips. The stark image of the video caused immediate outcry among the public once it began to go viral on social media platforms like Twitter. Since the video’s original release, the group of interest has not been the high schoolers nor the indigenous marchers, but has been targeted toward a group of Black Israelites who were seen in a emerging video calling the Covington students derogatory names.

black hebrew israelites

Members of the Black Hebrew Israelites demonstrate outside the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., November 12, 2018

Reuters/Al Drago


It is believed that this group is the reason for the culminating stand off between Phillips and Sandmann, as Philips was said to have been defusing the growing conflict between the Black Israelites and the Covington High School students.

Despite the varying perspectives from the event, it is clear that social tensions are at the forefront of national conversation.