A Catholic high school in Kentucky is facing social media backlash after videos posted online appeared to show several male youths mocking an elderly Indigenous protester at a rally in Washington, D.C.
Videos posted online showed a young man wearing a red “Make America Great Again” hat standing very close to and grinning at an elderly man who was beating a traditional drum and chanting. Dozens of other boys, many wearing MAGA hats, are seen surrounding the pair and cheering.
Some of the youths were wearing clothing bearing the logo of Covington Catholic High School, a private boys high school in Park Hills, Ky.
Global News could not immediately confirm that the youths were students of the school.
However, the communications director with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Covington told the Cincinnati Enquirer that the diocese had learned of the incident and was investigating.
The elder in the video was identified by Indigenous news outlet Indian Country Today as Nathan Phillips, a Vietnam War veteran, Omaha elder and former director of the Native Youth Alliance.
He was attending the Indigenous Peoples March in Washington, D.C., according to people who posted the video online.
The event coincided with the March for Life anti-abortion protest, which Covington students were scheduled to attend according to a post on the school’s official website. The webpage displays a photo of students, some of whom are wearing MAGA hats, attending an anti-abortion protest.
Several lawmakers pointed a finger at the Trump administration for enabling discriminatory and indecent behaviour.
Kentucky’s Secretary of State Alison Grimes said she didn’t want to blame the youths in the video.
“Instead, I turn to the adults and administration that are charged with teaching them, and to those who are silently letting others promote this behaviour,” Grimes said in a statement.
“Kentucky, we are better than this,” she tweeted.
Democratic Rep. Deb Haaland of New Mexico said the students’ behaviour was a sign of the erosion of “common decency” under the Trump administration.
North Dakota State Rep. Ruth Buffalo, a member of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation, said she was saddened by the video.
“The behaviour shown in that video is just a snapshot of what Indigenous people have faced and are continuing to face,” she said.
— With a file from the Associated Press