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Who Is Nick Sandmann? New Details About The Teen Who's Suing The Washington Post Over Their Coverage Of His Interaction With A Native American Activist

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Who Is Nick Sandmann? New Details About The Teen Who's Suing The Washington Post Over Their Coverage Of His Interaction With A Native American Activist

Nicholas Sandmann rose to internet fame when he faced off with Native American activist Nathan Phillips during the conclusion of the Indigenous Peoples' Day March and rally and the March of Life on Jan. 18 in Washington D.C.

Video of the event went viral because it seemed to show Sandmann and other students of Covington Catholic High School ( who were all wearing "Make America Great Again" hats) block Phillps' bath and mock him as he beat a drum. The clip that went viral was short and the extended video showed that prior to his interaction with Phillips, Sandmann was apart of a group of students who were mocked by a third group of demonstrators. 

It also showed that Phillips had approached Sandmann, not the other way around, as it previously was reported. A national debate over if the MAGA-hat wearing teenager or the Native American protestor was in the wrong ensued in the days following. Now, Sandmann's family is suing The Washington Post for targeting and defaming him for political purposes. 

So who is Nicholas Sandmann? Here's everything we know. 

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1. He claims he did not block Phillips' path. 

In a statement to Heavy, Sandmann said that he and other Covington students encountered a group called the Black Hebrew Israelites who began to loudly shouting insults at them. Those insults included "incest babies," which can be heard in the video. 

He says a student asked if the group could "sing their fight song to counter the hateful things" the Black Hebrew Israelites were yelling at them. Once the student got permission, he began to disrobe and band his chest while the rest of the students chanted. Sandmann said they wouldn't have done it without permission from adults. 

He said at no time did they shout "build the wall," nor did they block Phillips' path as he approached them. 

“I did not see anyone try to block his path. He locked eyes with me and approached me, coming within inches of my face,” Sandmann said. “He played his drum the entire time he was in my face. I never interacted with this protestor. I did not speak to him. I did not make any hand gestures or other aggressive moves. To be honest, I was startled and confused as to why he had approached me. We had already been yelled at by another group of protestors, and when the second group approached I was worried that a situation was getting out of control where adults were attempting to provoke teenagers.”

“I believed that by remaining motionless and calm, I was helping to diffuse the situation. I realized everyone had cameras and that perhaps a group of adults was trying to provoke a group of teenagers into a larger conflict. I said a silent prayer that the situation would not get out of hand.”

2. He claims he tried to diffuse the situation. 

“During the period of the drumming, a member of the protestor’s entourage began yelling at a fellow student that we 'stole our land' and that we should 'go back to Europe,'" Sandmann continued in his statement. 

“I heard one of my fellow students begin to respond. I motioned to my classmate and tried to get him to stop engaging with the protestor, as I was still in the mindset that we needed to calm down tensions. I never felt like I was blocking the Native American protestor. He did not make any attempt to go around me. It was clear to me that he had singled me out for a confrontation, although I am not sure why.”

“I harbor no ill will for this person. I respect this person’s right to protest and engage in free speech activities, and I support his chanting on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial any day of the week. I believe he should re-think his tactics of invading the personal space of others, but that is his choice to make.”

3. His says he and his family have been threatened. 

In his statement, Sandmann also said that he's been called a racist online and has received death threats directed at him and his family. 

“I have received physical and death threats via social media, as well as hateful insults. One person threatened to harm me at school, and one person claims to live in my neighborhood. My parents are receiving death and professional threats because of the social media mob that has formed over this issue.”

Those threats led the teen and his family to shut down all their social media accounts. 

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4. He's suing The Washington Post

Ted and Julie Sandmann recently filed a lawsuit on Nick Sandmann's behalf against The Washington Post for defamation. They're seeking $250 million in damages; $50 million for the alleged damage done and $200 million to punish the company. The lawsuit accuses the newspaper of publishing seven stories with a "false and defamatory gist" about Sandmann's interaction with Phillips. 

They also allege that those stories contributed to the cyberbullying the teen and his family faced following the incident. The complaint reads that the family hopes to "teach the Post a lesson it will never forget." 

5. Trump tweeted his support of the lawsuit. 

President Donald Trump tweeted his support of the Sandmann's and their lawsuit. 

"The Washington Post ignored basic journalistic standards because it wanted to advance its well-known and easily documented biased agenda against President Donald J. Trump.” Covington student suing WAPO. Go get them Nick. Fake News!" the president tweeted on Feb. 20. 

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Emily Blackwood is a writer and editor living in California. She covers all things news, pop culture and true crime.