Covington Catholic High School Cancels Classes Amid Safety Concerns

Following threats of violence, Covington Catholic High School, the Kentucky school at the center of a national firestorm over a viral video of an encounter between a some of its students and a Native American activist at Friday’s March for Life in Washington, DC, canceled its classes Tuesday due to safety concerns.

“After meeting with local authorities, we have made the decision to cancel school and be closed on Tuesday, January 22, in order to ensure the safety of our students, faculty and staff,” Robert Rowe, the school’s principal, wrote in an email to parents and employees. “All activities on campus will be canceled for the entire day and evening. Students, parents, faculty and staff are not to be on campus for any reason. Please continue to keep the Covington Catholic Community in your prayers.”

Initial footage of the confrontation between Covington Catholic High School junior Nick Sandman and Native American Nathan Phillips on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial sparked controversy on social media last week.

Wearing a Make America Great Again hat, Sandman is seen in the video grinning as Phillips, an elder with the Omaha tribe, sings and beats on a drum in his face. Lawmakers, prominent media figures, celebrities, Native-American leaders, the Diocese of Covington and Covington Catholic High School were quick to condemn Sandmann’s behavior.

However, extended videos reveal the teenage students were initially confronted by Phillips. Phillips approach the teenagers first, took a left on a landing along the stairway up the Lincoln Memorial and walked directly into the congregation of students.

Additional footage reveals shows a small group of Black Hebrew Israelites taunting the boys with slurs and profanity before Phillips arrived on the scene.

Sandmann issued a statement defending his reaction.

“I was not intentionally making faces at the protestor. I did smile at on point because I wanted him to know that I was not going to become, angry, intimidated or be provoked into a larger confrontation. I am a faithful Christian and practicing Catholic, and I always try to live up to the ideals my faith teaches me –  to remain respectful of others, and to take no action that would lead to conflict or violence,” he wrote.

After receiving a slew of violent threats over the weekend, the school recruited extra security to prepare for students to return Tuesday.

The American Indian Movement Chapter of Indiana and Kentucky began protesting the Diocese of Covington at 10:00 am local time.

President Trump defended the students Tuesday, stating that they have been treated unfairly by the media and are “symbols of Fake News and how evil it can be.”

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