Covington’s Sandmann on Why He Didn’t Walk Away: ‘I Didn’t Want to Be Disrespectful to Mr. Phillips’

Wednesday on NBC’s “Today,” Covington Catholic High School’s Nick Sandmann, one of the youths videoed in an what had been described as a confrontation with so-called Native American activist Nathan Phillips, spoke out about the incident with show co-host Savannah Guthrie.

Sandmann, who was part of a group of high school students waiting on buses in Washington, DC at the Lincoln Memorial, acknowledged that he had the right to be there, but admitted he wished the incident could have been avoided.

“As far as standing there, I had every right to do so,” Sandmann said. “My position is that I was not disrespectful to Mr. Phillips. I respect him. I’d like to talk to him. I mean, in hindsight, I wish we could have walked away and avoided the whole thing. But I can’t say that I’m sorry for listening to him and standing there.”

“In hindsight, I wish we had just found another spot to wait for our buses, but at the time being positive seemed better than letting them slander us with all of these things,” he added. “So, I wish we could have walked away.”

Sandmann explained why he didn’t just walk away, which was out of respect for Phillips.

Well, now I wish I would have walked away. I didn’t want to be disrespectful to Mr. Phillips and walk away if he was trying to talk to me, but certainly I was surrounded by a lot of people I didn’t know that had their phones out, had cameras and I didn’t want to bump into anyone or seem like I was trying to do something.

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