Indigenous Peoples March organizers took a swipe Thursday at Covington Catholic student Nick Sandmann for what they called “the smirk seen around the world.”
In a joint statement, march leaders and the Lakota People’s Law Project expressed concern about CNN’s decision Tuesday to settle the “specious” defamation lawsuit filed by the Sandmann family.
The statement also repeated the allegation that the teen had smirked at Native American activist Nathan Phillips during their Jan. 18 viral video incident at the Lincoln Memorial, which Nicholas has denied.
“Regardless of any legal outcomes, the smirk seen around the world remains a poignant symbol of the well-documented bigotry of President Donald Trump and many of his followers,” the statement said.
Nicholas, who wore a red Make America Great Again ball cap during the Jan. 18 incident, has said he was trying not to react after Mr. Phillips approached him, sang and played a drum as they stood face to face.
“My position is that I was not disrespectful to Mr. Phillips. I respect him. I’d like to talk to him,” the teen told NBC last year in an interview. “I mean, in hindsight, I wish we could’ve walked away and avoided the whole thing. But I can’t say that I’m sorry for listening to him and standing there.”
CNN and attorneys for the Sandmanns confirmed that they have settled for an undisclosed amount in the $275 million lawsuit filed in March stemming from the network’s coverage of the episode.
“As no details concerning CNN’s decision to settle Nick Sandmann’s defamation lawsuit against them have been released, it’s difficult to assess the implications of the network’s decision not to fight in court,” said the joint statement by the Native American groups.
Indigenous activists respond to CNN settlement with Nick Sandmann over last year's Lincoln Memorial viral video. Indigenous Peoples March and Lakota Law Project respond to CNN-Sandmann settlement. https://t.co/BBocGqrcDt via @IndianCountry #ICTPressPool
— ICTPressPool (@ICTPressPool) January 9, 2020
CNN’s Oliver Darcy reported that the settlement “will allow CNN to avoid a lengthy and potentially unpredictable trial.”
The Sandmanns have also filed lawsuits against CNN, The Washington Post and NBCUniversal alleging that the media coverage portrayed the teen as the aggressor, despite video footage showing that Mr. Phillips waded into the large group of high school students from Covington, Kentucky, who had attended the same-day March for Life.
After initially dismissing the lawsuit against The Post, U.S. District Judge William O. Bertelsman decided to allow the case to go forward on three of the original 33 alleged incidents of libel stemming from the newspaper’s coverage.
Sandmann attorneys have identified another dozen potential defendants that they plan to sue within the next 30 to 60 days.
The Lakota People’s Legal Project issued a rebuttal of the lawsuit against The Post, saying that the same arguments apply to “the specious suit settled by CNN.”
“The United States is losing moral capital the world over right now at an alarming rate,” the statement continued. “That trend must be reversed immediately if we hope to remain a force for good in the world, and that begins with robust media coverage of public acts of racism.”
© Copyright (c) 2020 News World Communications, Inc.
This content is published through a licensing agreement with Acquire Media using its NewsEdge technology.