A few days ago, we shared with you the connection between a Kentucky teen whose school banned him from giving the valedictorian speech at his graduation and the high school students at the center of the ongoing D.C. controversy.
It turns out that both schools and all of those students are overseen by the Catholic Diocese of Covington, Kentucky.
Now, Christian Bales, the gay teen who was banned from giving a speech at his graduation, is speaking out against the Catholic Diocese and the schools that it runs.
“I was not surprised at all,” said the 19-year-old University of Louisville student to NBC News. “It was only a matter of time that something this school community did would blow up to this degree, and I think they need to be held accountable.”
According to Bales, the Covington Catholic school, where the group of boys at the center of the D.C. incident come from, is “notorious for being a not-well-disciplined school” Bales also said that the Catholic Diocese of Covington is “archaic.”
"They have the very last say in everything about students in the diocese," Bales said.
Last week, the internet erupted after a video surfaced of a group of teens surrounding an American indigenous protestor in Washington D.C.
The Covington Catholic boys were at the nation’s capital to see the March for Life.
But later, the below video surfaced showing the teens surrounding and jumping around a single protestor. In addition, one teen named Nick Sandmann stands adamantly in front of 64-year-old Nathan Phillips.
As with most internet arguments that originate from a video, most assumed to have the entire story. As such, many condemned the students for their hostile treatment of the peaceful protestor.
Sandmann then later came out with a statement saying that he was a victim who did not engage with the protestor and was singled out by Philips.
“I never interacted with this protestor. I did not speak to him. I did not make any hand gestures or other aggressive moves. To be honest, I was startled and confused as to why he had approached me. We had already been yelled at by another group of protestors, and when the second group approached I was worried that a situation was getting out of control where adults were attempting to provoke teenagers.”
“I believed that by remaining motionless and calm, I was helping to diffuse the situation. I realized everyone had cameras and that perhaps a group of adults was trying to provoke a group of teenagers into a larger conflict. I said a silent prayer that the situation would not get out of hand.”
If you would like to read his full statement, you can click this link here.
Then, another video later surfaced. This video gave a larger picture to the situation. It partially confirmed Sandmann’s story, but it also partially contradicted it.
In the video, you can see that Phillips did approach the boys first. That said, he did so calmly and was merely singing and banging his drum at the time. He was not yelling out lines such as they “stole our land,” or “go back to Europe.”
In addition, Phillips stood a few feet away from the boys and kept his distance. It was Sandmann and his classmates who escalated the situation by jumping around and surrounding Phillips.
Ultimately, both sides have fault in the situation. Phillips did initiate the altercation, but the boys “were not blameless” as University student Bales put it.
You have to also take into account the fact that we’re talking about a large group of teenagers and a single man (who’s fellow protestors stuck to the sides). The adult stood in front of the boys, which by the juvenile minds could have been seen as a passive aggressive action against them. Seeing this as a sign of provocation, the teens then began to act wild in response. The level of maturity and mob mentality are factors to consider when thinking about why the teens acted the way they did.
That said, many have provided examples of the type of attitudes the young men at the Covington Catholic School carry.
One photo that has spread all over the internet shows several Covington boys at a basketball game. Many are yelling at an opposing player, who happens to be black. That act in itself is normal for a basketball game. The problem is that several of the Covington boys are pictured with black paint covering their entire bodies.
Many have called out these boys as being dressed in black face. Of course, the image of them yelling at a black player doesn’t help.
That said, there is an explanation for this act (though that doesn’t justify its nature). It is common for sports fans to paint themselves entirely in the colors of their favorite teams. Go to any major league game, and you’ll find a few guys with paint all over their bodies.
In addition, Covington was having a "black out" event to raise school spirit. Some boys took the idea of dressing entirely in black too far by painting their bodies too.
Ultimately, the intention may not have been racially charged, but that doesn’t stop the connection from being made. In addition, some of the boys used white paint to outline their eyes and lips, which makes the look appear even worse.
But possibly the most damning evidence against the Covington boys was yet another video that appeared later.
The video below depicts a smaller group of boys catcalling and insulting a group of women participating in the march. In the video, you can hear the boys yelling out words like “slut” at pedestrians.
This image itself shows the character and attitude of the boys at the very center of this controversy. It speaks volumes.
As for Nick Sandmann and Nathan Phillips, ABC News reports that Phillips hopes to meet and speak with the boys again. He wants to “have a dialog about cultural appropriation, racism, and the importance of listening to and respecting diverse cultures.”
In addition, Philips shared that he wasn’t intentionally trying to provoke the group of teens, but rather ease them away from getting into a fight with another group.
“Phillips and others were closing the Indigenous Peoples March with a prayer ceremony in their permitted area when, videos show, two groups without permits — Black Hebrew Israelites and the high school students — began arguing,” the statement said.
“Phillips said he approached and stepped between the two groups in an effort to quell the burgeoning conflict through spiritual song.”
But for Sandmann, who is still doing damage control and who’s parents have hired a professional PR rep to curb public scrutiny, he says that he doesn’t regret the incident. To him, he was simply holding his ground.
“As far as standing there, I had every right to do so. My position is that I was not disrespectful to Mr. Phillips. I respect him. I’d like to talk to him…But I can't say that I'm sorry for listening to him and standing there.”
That said, the teen also shares that he too would love to talk with Phillips. Perhaps the two parties can set up a meeting, and start to move past this entire incident. We'll see.