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February 14 2019

Exonerated: Covington Students Finally Have Their Names Cleared

by Patrice Lee Onwuka

The students of Covington High School have been exonerated.

Many in the media, on social media, activists, and racial agitators berated the group of pro-life Catholic students for making racist and offensive remarks towards an older Native American man. But truth prevailed. The students acted more maturely and honestly during and after the episode than the aggressive and dishonest adults who instigated the fight.

There’s a very valuable lesson here: Seeing isn’t always believing. Perception isn’t reality.

In a letter to Covington High School parents, the Diocese of Covington reported that based on the results of an independent investigation into the now-infamous incident that took place following the March for Life in Washington, all of the students involved were exonerated.

Covington’s Bishop Roger Foys prefaced the report, saying:

“The immediate world-wide reaction to the initial video led almost everyone to believe that our students had initiated the incident and the perception of those few minutes of video became reality.

In truth, taking everything into account, our students were placed in a situation that was at once bizarre and even threatening. Their reaction to the situation was, given the circumstances, expected and one might even say laudatory… These young high school students could never have expected what they experienced on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial while waiting for the busses to take them home. Their stance there was surely a pro-life stance. I commend them.”

240 man hours, 4 licensed investigators, 50 hours reviewing internet activity, and over 50 interviews later, the investigators found:

“...no evidence that students responded [to offensive statements by the Black Hebrew Israelites] with any offensive or racist statements of their own.”

“...no evidence of offensive or racist statements by students to Mr. Phillips or members of his group”

“... no evidence students performed a “Build the Wall” chant”

As you remember, a viral video emerged showing an encounter between Omaha Nation elder Nathan Phillips and Covington Catholic High students at the Washington Monument. It was assumed the students who were donning Make America Great Again hats were hurling racial slurs and offensive comments and actions toward the activist and those with him. One student, Nick Sandmann, was featured prominently in the video staring down Phillips.

The media immediately went wild bashing the students. In the days, following Catholic education was put on trial for allegedly being breeding grounds for racism.

Then additional video evidence emerged contradicting that narrative and demonstrating that Phillips and others were the aggressors. The damage to the names and reputations of the Covington students and the school was already done. Some students received death threats.

Even the diocese caved to public pressure and initially condemned the behavior of the students, before apologizing for that.

Sandmann's attorney, Lin Wood, could not be more right in a comment on Twitter as CNN reported:

the report "unequivocally exonerates Nick Sandmann & refutes the vicious lies by the mainstream & social media mob against this 16-year old student & his classmates."

"Nick Sandmann is owed apologies from thousands of accusers & accountability for damage to his reputation & threats against his life.”

Sadly, this is the world in which we live where social media mobs and the media will charge, try, and hang individuals in the court of public opinion without all of the facts -- as long as it is politically advantageous or underscores a convenient narrative they have built.

As stated before, this episode should teach us to be wary about drawing conclusions based on perception rather than fact. That no one was physically hurt was a blessing, but these students’ lives will never be the same.



Independent Women's Forum is an educational 501(c)(3) dedicated to developing and advancing policies that aren’t just well intended, but actually enhance people’s freedom, choices, and opportunities. IWF is the sister organization of the Independent Women’s Voice.​
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