Video of a teenager mocking a Native American elder participating in the Indigenous Peoples March in Washington D.C. went viral on Saturday, drawing condemnation from a number of Hollywood stars and celebrities.
“I want the opposite of whatever these kids want. And it appears they want a wall,” wrote “Scrubs” star Zach Braff on Twitter.
Videos from Friday’s rally showed students of the all-boys Covington Catholic High School shouting, jumping and chanting “build the wall” at Native American marchers playing traditional music. According to the school, the students were in D.C. to attend the anti-abortion March for Life rally, taking place on the same day.
One video, showing a young man in a “Make America Great Again” hat staring down a Native American man, drew particular attention. The Native American man was later identified as Omaha Nation elder and Vietnam War veteran Nathan Phillips.
“This is Trump’s America,” wrote actress and activist Alyssa Milano. “And it brought me to tears. What are we teaching our young people? Why is this ok? How is this ok? Please help me understand. Because right now I feel like my heart is living outside of my body.”
In a statement on Saturday, the school condemned the actions of the student in the video and vowed to investigate and “take appropriate action, up to and including expulsion.”
“We extend our deepest apologies to Mr. Phillips. This behavior is opposed to the Church’s teachings on the dignity and respect of the human person,” the statement continued.
Phillips himself addressed what happened in another video circulated on Saturday.
“I heard them saying, ‘build that wall! build that wall!'” he said. “This is indigenous land — not supposed to have walls here. We never [did] for millennium … Before anybody else came here, you never had walls, you never had a prison,” he also said. “We always too care of our elders. We took care of our children.”
— Patton Oswalt (@pattonoswalt) January 19, 2019