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Nick Sandmann’s Lawyer Expects to Sue Native American Activist Nathan Phillips


Lost in the shuffle of everyone reporting on Tuesday that CNN agreed to settle a lawsuit filed on behalf of Covington Catholic teen Nick Sandmann? Sandmann’s lawyer said he expects to sue Nathan Phillips.

Attorney L. Lin Wood said in court that Phillips, and others, can expect to become defendants next. Per Fox19:

A lawsuit is expected to be filed against Phillips, Wood said. He indicated that lawsuit would seek $5 million, but the judge said that Phillips does not have as much money as the other defendants.

They also plan to sue Gannett, owners of The Enquirer, according to Wood.

He said he will bring that to the judge in the next 60 days. Wood also said there’s a maximum of 15 defendants.

In case you are somehow aware of the March for Life 2019 controversy but have no idea who Phillips is, he’s the Native American political activist who approached a smiling, MAGA-hatted Sandmann and drummed in his face. Phillips was participating in the Indigenous Peoples March. The Sandmann-Phillips encounter was recorded, went viral, and accusations that the Covington Catholic teens were racist and hate-filled soon followed. The media/social media blitz gave rise to multiple defamation lawsuits on behalf of Sandmann and other unnamed Covington Catholic students.

The outcome of the claims against the Washington Post and NBC Universal is still up in the air. Sandmann attorney Todd McMurtry told Bloomberg Law, “We will continue to pursue Nicholas Sandmann’s claims against NBC and The Washington Post.”

He also said that the legal team plans to “add a number of additional defendants in the next 30 days or so.”

Sandmann himself confirmed the CNN settlement on Tuesday:

Law&Crime reached out to Sandmann’s lawyers for comment on the terms of the CNN settlement, but we haven’t heard back. The suit initially sought hundreds of millions of dollars.

Speaking of CNN, the cable news network interviewed Phillips after the Jan. 2019 incident. During that interview, Phillips said he had witnessed “hate” and “spur of the moment” decided to “use the drum, use our prayer and bring a balance, bring a calming to the situation”:

CNN: Tell us what happened, what transpired between you and the young people who were all standing around you? How did you end up surrounded by this group of young people with the MAGA hats on?

Phillips: There was a disturbance there on the Lincoln Monument grounds. We were finishing up with Indigenous Peoples March and rally and there were some folks there that were expressing their (First Amendment) rights there, freedom of speech. … Then there was this young group of young students that came there and were offended by their speech, and it escalated into an ugly situation that I found myself in the middle of. Yeah, I found myself in the middle of it, sort of woke up to it.

CNN: You just sort of decided to try and stop this or at least have an impact on it, calm the waters. Is that right?

Phillips: Yes, that’s the impression that everybody has, and I guess that’s what I was doing. I didn’t realize that’s what I was doing. When I started taking those steps and using the drum, it was just spur of the moment. I don’t like to say it that way, but it was just, “What do you do? What do you do now?” Here’s a moment where something that’s really ugly in our society, in America, something that’s just come to a boiling point, as they say. Does that make sense?


CNN: What did it feel like that you were witnessing?

Phillips: Oh, what I was witnessing was just hate? Racism? Well, hate. What I’m saying is that when these folks came there, these other folks were saying their piece, and these others they got offended with it because they were both just expressing their own views. And if it’s racism, that’s what it was because the folks that were having their moment there, they were saying things that I don’t know if I agreed with them or not, but some of it was educational, and it was truth, and it was history about religious views and ideologies, but these other folks, the young students, they couldn’t see it. They had one point of view, it seemed, and that was that their point of view was the only point of view that was worthwhile. And that’s now what I was feeling.

CNN: Were you trying to calm the situation down basically when you saw kind of things seemed to spiral out of control?

Phillips: I think so. I think that was the push, that we need to use the drum, use our prayer and bring a balance, bring a calming to the situation. I didn’t assume that I had any kind of power to do that, but at the same time, I didn’t feel that I could just stand there anymore and not do something. It looked like these young men were going to attack these guys. They were going to hurt them. They were going to hurt them because they didn’t like the color of their skin. They didn’t like their religious views. They were just here in front of the Lincoln — Lincoln is not my hero, but at the same time, there was this understanding that he brought the (Emancipation Proclamation) or freed the slaves, and here are American youth who are ready to, look like, lynch these guys. To be honest, they looked like they were going to lynch them. They were in this mob mentality. Where were their parents? Because they were obvious a student group. Where were their–

Sandmann previously spoke about his reaction to Phillips during an interview of his own.

“I see it as a smile, saying that this is the best you’re going to get out of me,” he said “You won’t get any further reaction of aggression. And I’m willing to stand here as long as you want to hit this drum in my face.”

“People have judged me based off one expression, which I wasn’t smirking, but people have assumed that’s what I have,” he added.

[Image via YouTube screengrab]

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Matt Naham is the Senior A.M. Editor of Law&Crime.