MAGA Hat-Wearing Teens Harassing Native American Elder Spark Condemnation From Hollywood

Erin Nyren

The Internet erupted in outrage Saturday after a video of young men wearing MAGA hats and attempting to intimidate a Native American man at the Indigenous Peoples March in Washington D.C. went viral.

The march is taking place amid the government shutdown, which is nearing the one-month mark and has interfered with many Native Americans’ basic services.

Related stories

TV Shows to Watch the Week of Jan. 21, 2019: 'Rent: Live,' 'Celebrity Big Brother'

'Black Monday': How Showtime Dusted Off An Old '80s Logo For Its New Comedy

'Glass': Five Box Office Takeaways From M. Night Shyamalan's Thriller

The boys in the video are from the all-male Covington Catholic High School in Kentucky, which had provided bus transportation to the capitol for students to participate in the March for Life. The Diocese of Covington released a statement mid-afternoon Saturday condemning the students’ actions and stated “the matter is being investigated and we will take appropriate action, up to and including expulsion.”


The man in the video is Nathan Phillips, an Omaha elder and Vietnam veteran. According to reports, he regularly holds a ceremony for Vietnam vets buried at Arlington. The confrontation took place near the Lincoln Memorial, where he was singing a song of unity for indigenous people.

“It was getting ugly, and I was thinking: ‘I’ve got to find myself an exit out of this situation and finish my song at the Lincoln Memorial,’ ” Phillips recalled to the Washington Post. “I started going that way, and that guy in the hat stood in my way and we were at an impasse. He just blocked my way and wouldn’t allow me to retreat.”

See reactions below.

“Hi, @supmikeclines of @CovCathColonols,” wrote comedian Patton Oswalt. “Great work you guys are doing. Shaping young minds. Take a bow.”



“Where are their parents, where are their teachers, where are their pastors?” queried NBC’s Joe Scarborough.


“One Day at a Time” executive producer Mike Royce linked the video to the recent Gillette ad that caused indignation in conservative circles last week, writing, “Tell me again why the Gillette commercial was bad?”


Kathy Griffin wrote, “MAGA hats. Donald Trump has brought the worst out in our country.”


California representative Ted Lieu shared that he attended a Catholic high school and wrote that “Jesus taught us to act in the exact opposite manner of how your students behaved.”


Comedian and actor Paul F. Tompkins also called out Covington Catholic, particularly for making their Twitter page private. “Not only should these kids not have been out there publicly mocking anyone, they shouldn’t have had those f—ing hats on in the first place,” he wrote.



“Will & Grace” star Debra Messing tweeted that she’d be “ashamed and appalled” if he was her son.


Michael Ian Black tweeted an image of the boys alongside one from a ’60s-era lunch counter protest, in which white hecklers poured condiments and other items on the protesters.


Michael McKean retweeted Black’s post, adding “Great again.”


“What are we teaching our young people?” asked Alyssa Milano. “How is this ok? Please help me understand. Because right now I feel like my heart is living outside of my body.”


“If Beale Street Could Talk” director Barry Jenkins responded to director Matthew A. Cherry’s post with a photo from lunch counter protests as well, adding “Same kid. MAGA indeed”


Subscribe to Variety Newsletters and Email Alerts!