Social media filled with outrage on Saturday from a slew of celebrities after footage of white high school students taunting Native American marchers went viral.
The fury dominated Twitter and other platforms on Saturday, as a video originally uploaded by a user named KC Noland circulated. It showed a small group of Native people from the Indigenous Peoples March singing along to a drum beat, led by Omaha elder Nathan Phillips. Phillips, a Vietnam War veteran, stared the mocking high schoolers in the face as they circled around him, visibly laughing at his tradition.
The students were there to attend the March For Life, an anti-abortion event on the same day. Most of them wore "Make America Great Again" hats, and their school, Covington Catholic High School in Park Hills, Kentucky, apparently endorsed their trip. The school and the Diocese later released a statement condemning their behavior at the Indigenous Peoples' March, and promised disciplinary action — possibly even expulsion.
In the meantime, social media is still marveling at the footage from every angle, taking in the strange body language and blatant disrespect. As the Native people tried to go about their planned march, the students were heard chanting "Build That Wall." That, combined with the hats, has turned the trending topic into a fierce political showdown.
Here are some of the biggest celebrities to weigh-in on the viral video.
This is appalling. The ignorance. The gall. The disrespect. It’s shameful. And sadly on brand. When something like this isnt even surprising, it’s evidence to our place in the cycle of recreating our darker chapters. That Native American man showed incredible strength and dignity https://t.co/Im4KLw3sV7— Chris Evans (@ChrisEvans) January 19, 2019
If the students from Covington Catholic High enjoy Marvel movies, they would be disappointed by Captain America's response to their stunt. The actor is always outspoken about politics online, and this video really struck a cord with him.
"This is appalling. The ignorance. The gall. The disrespect," he wrote. "It’s shameful. And sadly on brand. When something like this isnt even surprising, it’s evidence to our place in the cycle of recreating our darker chapters. That Native American man showed incredible strength and dignity."prevnext
This is Trump’s America. And it brought me to tears. What are we teaching our young people? Why is this ok? How is this ok? Please help me understand. Because right now I feel like my heart is living outside of my body. https://t.co/QMxMDxNjvr— Alyssa Milano (@Alyssa_Milano) January 19, 2019
To Alyssa Milano, there was no denying the correlation between the behavior of the students in that video and their political preferences. She wondered, in her own tweet, how the next generation would look after experiencing the presidency of Donald Trump.
"This is Trump’s America," she declared. "And it brought me to tears. What are we teaching our young people? Why is this ok? How is this ok? Please help me understand. Because right now I feel like my heart is living outside of my body."prevnext
I am absolutely disgusted by the mass of students disrespectful and vile treatment towards Nathan and Native Americans in general. Bigotry is bigotry, is bigotry, is bigotry. It should ALWAYS be recognized and condemned! Those students could learn a thing about respect from him.. https://t.co/ea9ln5jHoY— Meghan McCain (@MeghanMcCain) January 19, 2019
The View co-host Meghan McCain showed that racism and respect are not a partisan issue. The passionate Republican voiced her support for Phillips, and her outrage at the students.
"I am absolutely disgusted by the mass of students disrespectful and vile treatment towards Nathan and Native Americans in general," she wrote. "Bigotry is bigotry, is bigotry, is bigotry. It should ALWAYS be recognized and condemned! Those students could learn a thing about respect from him."prevnext
Rosie O'Donnell and Michael Ian Black
horrible smug asswipe https://t.co/jzTtdDJbQT— ROSIE (@Rosie) January 19, 2019
Comedian Michael Ian Black posted a photo of one of the Covington Catholic High students beside a historical photo of a white student bullying a black student during the civil rights movement. Rosie O'Donnell retweeted the comparison, writing "horrible smug asswipe."prevnext
Zack Braff tied the video back to another viral video from earlier in the week — the "toxic masculinity" commercial from Gillette.
"How soon can you guys get down there?" he asked the shaving company, adding later: "I want the opposite of whatever these kids want. And it appears they want a wall."prevnext
Yvette Nicole Brown
I promise today is not the today to propose I cram to understand the “plight” of entitled racists who disrespect an elder, no matter the racists’ age.
No one says “but they’re just kids” when the kids are melanin-rich. They are thugs. Just thugs. Immediately and always.— yvette nicole brown (@YNB) January 19, 2019
Actress Yvette Nicole Brown was also horrified by the videos, and was quick to shoot down those who defended the students. To her, the racial implications of the situation could not have been clearer.
"I promise today is not the today to propose I cram to understand the 'plight' of entitled racists who disrespect an elder, no matter the racists’ age," she warned. "No one says 'but they’re just kids' when the kids are melanin-rich. They are thugs. Just thugs. Immediately and always."prevnext
No. Wrong. Everyone has NOT acted with racist contempt and degregation as a teenager. It speaks volumes to your upbringing and community if that is the case. https://t.co/SFPr2OxdF6— Debra Messing (@DebraMessing) January 19, 2019
Will and Grace actress Debra Messing was also furious with the students in the video, and not interested in indulging those who forgave them.
"I'd be ashamed and appalled if he was my son," Messing wrote of one picture from the event. When another user posted a defense of the students, Messing took issue.
"No. Wrong. Everyone has NOT acted with racist contempt and degregation [sic] as a teenager," she wrote. "It speaks volumes to your upbringing and community if that is the case."prevnext
no doubt! each of them individually. and their parents, friends and community who are quite possibly the reason they're like this. but that's an emotional response and not to be trusted. in this case, if it feels good, don't do it ... https://t.co/8117EI2MSG— Don Cheadle (@DonCheadle) January 19, 2019
Another on-screen Marvel hero, Don Cheadle, also spent some time going over the footage on Saturday. Cheadle wondered about the systemic forces that might have brought the Covington Catholic High students to that moment, and made particular note of Phillips' service to his country.
"He's a Vietnam vet who understands the results of hate, fear and violence better than most," he wrote. "He was apparently singing a song about cleansing his detractors of enmity and rancor. Hero."prevnext
Kathy Griffin also had a clear idea of where the inspiration for the stunt came from, blaming her long-time opponent President Donald Trump.
"MAGA hats. Donald Trump has brought the worst in our country," she wrote.prevnext
Finally, comedian Patton Oswalt had a lot to say about the videos in a series of tweets on Saturday. He joked that the student at the front of the crowd would likely become a Supreme Court Justice one day, comparing him to Judge Brett Kavanaugh. He also tagged Covington Catholic High School and its superintendent, Mike Clines.prev