Nathan Phillips Tried to Disrupt Catholic Mass by Chanting, Beating Drum

Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC, and Native
AP Photo/David Goldman/Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

A group of Native American activists, led by native elder Nathan Phillips, allegedly tried to enter a Catholic church in Washington, DC, on Saturday while chanting and banging on their drums.

Nathan Phillips, along with about twenty other activists, tried to disrupt a January 19th evening Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, while chanting and banging on their drums, according to the Catholic News Agency (CNA).

Phillips, who had captured national media attention after his confrontation with Covington Catholic High School students on Friday, was reportedly stopped by security from entering the Catholic church on Saturday as he and others chanted and played their drums during a Vigil Mass.

“It was really upsetting,” said a security guard to CNA, “There were about twenty people trying to get in, we had to lock the doors and everything.”

“We had hundreds and hundreds of people from all over the country come here to celebrate life,” continued the security guard to CNA, “It’s a house of worship, a place of prayer where people come to celebrate. All this anger is so against what we are all about here.”

The security guard added that the “protest” attempting to enter the church during its Mass was “really the worst.”

A short video clip of a separate incident involving Phillips — just one day prior to him storming the Catholic church — surfaced on the internet and was then circulated around on social media.

In the video, Phillips was seen in an alleged altercation with students from Covington Catholic High School, which immediately resulted in national outrage from members of mainstream media, Hollywood, and political pundits from both the right and left.

As more context was added to the story in the following days, many admitted to prematurely passing judgment on the students, while others scrambled to delete their initial tweets regarding the incident.

The damage, however, had already been done, and the high school felt it was necessary to cancel classes on Tuesday after receiving violent threats.

Friday’s incident had not been the first time Phillips ended up in news headlines. In April 2015, Phillips claimed that students from Eastern Michigan University had hurled racial slurs at him as well as a beer can while shouting at him to “go back to the reservation,” according to Fox 2 Detroit.

Phillips has also claimed that he is a Vietnam veteran. On Tuesday, however, it was discovered that Phillips had never been deployed to Vietnam, causing the Washington Post to correct its story regarding Phillips’ military record.

The security guard at the basilica told CNA that he does not know the details of what had happened during Friday’s incident involving Phillips and the high school students, but he hopes he never sees another incident like the one he saw on Saturday when Phillips and others attempted to disrupt the Vigil Mass.

You can follow Alana Mastrangelo on Twitter at @ARmastrangelo and on Instagram.


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