Trump says students ‘unfairly treated’ over Native incident

The student was wearing a red cap bearing Trump’s slogan, “Make America Great Again.” (File/AFP)
Updated 22 January 2019
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Trump says students ‘unfairly treated’ over Native incident

WASHINGTON: Boys from a Catholic school in Kentucky were treated unfairly in a rush to judgment, President Donald Trump said on Monday after allegations the students had mocked a Native American elder.
“Looking like Nick Sandman & Covington Catholic students were treated unfairly with early judgments proving out to be false — smeared by media,” Trump tweeted.
As in many cases, Trump’s tweet appeared to be triggered by Fox News, as he cited the network’s Tucker Carlson saying new footage showed “media” were wrong about the encounter.
Footage captured on multiple phone camera videos that swept social media on Saturday showed a white Covington student standing silently with his lips taught, extremely close to Nathan Phillips, a Native American Vietnam war veteran, who beats a traditional drum while chanting.
The student wears a red cap bearing Trump’s slogan, “Make America Great Again.”
Other students are jumping up and down, chanting.
The incident occurred on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on Friday when the annual anti-abortion March for Life coincided with a rally by indigenous communities calling for their rights to be respected.
The Diocese of Covington and Covington Catholic High School issued a statement rebuking the students after their displays drew widespread derision.
One of the first two Native American women elected to Congress in November, Deb Haaland, linked the students’ behavior to what she called rising levels of racial intolerance under the Trump administration.
Kaya Taitano, a witness to the incident, was quoted by CNN as saying Phillips had decided to intervene with a “healing prayer” when the school teens got into a verbal altercation with a group of African American youths who had been preaching about the Bible.
Phillips gave his reaction in a separate video. “I heard them saying, ‘Build that wall, build that wall.’ We’re not supposed to have walls here, we never did.”
But US media including The New York Times and The Washington Post later reported that the encounter was more complicated than it first appeared.
The African American youths were Hebrew Israelites, who reportedly insulted both Native activists and the students.
Both the Times and the Post quoted Phillips as clarifying that he had moved toward the students.
CNN quoted the student at the center of the initial video, Nick Sandmann — the spelling used by major news media — as saying that his group only used “school spirit” chants, and did not express support for a border wall or say anything racist.


13 under arrest for Sri Lanka blasts: police

Sri Lankan security personnel keep watch outside the church premises following a blast at the St. Anthony's Shrine in Kochchikade in Colombo on April 21, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 23 min 3 sec ago
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13 under arrest for Sri Lanka blasts: police

COLOMBO: Sri Lankan police have arrested 13 men in connection with bomb blasts on churches and hotels that killed more than 200 people, officials said Monday.
Authorities have not made public details on those held after Sunday’s attacks. But a police source told AFP the 13 were detained at two locations in and around Colombo.
The source said the 13 men are from the same radical group.
At least two of the eight attacks were carried out by suicide bombers, according to police and other sources, and three police were killed when another suicide bomber detonated explosives during a raid on a house where suspects were.