A new documentary film premiering later this month focuses on the encounter in Washington, D.C. between students from Covington Catholic High School, Native Americans, and Black Hebrew Israelites.
The January 2019 event drew international attention under a narrative that the local students were deliberately antagonizing a Native American elder named Nathan Phillips by mocking native music.
The most recognizable encounter from the event featured Cov Cath student Nicholas Sandmann, wearing a red Make America Great Again hat in support of then-President Trump, smiling and looking at Phillips near the Lincoln Memorial. The students were in D.C. for the annual March for Life Rally against abortion.
That image circulated the globe portraying Sandmann and his schoolmates as villains, representatives of Trump’s devoted following.
But later, more images, video, and context emerged showing that the Cov Cath students had been baited into a verbal altercation with members of a Black Hebrew Israelites organization, and that Phillips had walked over to the students with other Native Americans playing music, and then the students started to dance along.
Sandmann ultimately sued multiple major U.S. media outlets, some of which have settled, and others who still have legal cases pending.
The story is at the center of a new documentary made by a graduate of Covington Catholic in Park Hills.
Jonathan Schroder said that he watched the event and media blowback with a keen interest and sought to better understand what had happened.
In the film, The Boys in Red Hats, Schroder said that he wanted to investigate how one fleeting interaction can become a global controversy.
The trailer for the documentary: