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Nathan Phillips: Native American Activist Accuses Nicholas Sandmann of Being 'Coached' for Today Sit-Down

A day after Covington Catholic High School student Nicholas Sandmann sat down with Savannah Guthrie to defend that smirk-seen-’round-the-world, Native American activist Nathan Phillips appeared on NBC’s Today to share his version of what went down at that now-infamous March for Life event.

During his interview, Sandmann defended his actions. He told Guthrie that he had every right to stand there when Phillips approached him. “My position is that I was not disrespectful to Mr. Phillips,” he said. “I respect him; I’d like to talk to him. 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.”

On Thursday, Phillips was given equal time and alleged that he couldn’t have walked away — even if he wanted to — because he was blocked.

“That’s what I was trying to do. I was trying to walk away,” Phillips said. “We were surrounded. We couldn’t go right, we couldn’t go left… I took that first step and that crowd backed up; I took a second step and that crowd started scattering and breaking apart there; and I took a third [step] and saw a clear space and I said, ‘that’s the space,’ and we started going that way… [but] a person was there… I was blocked.”

When asked if he had a chance to see Guthrie’s sit-down with Sandmann, Phillips admitted that he didn’t watch it in full. “I was upset that I was made to sit down and watch it,” he said. “Someone tried to show it to me… and I got into the first 30-40 seconds of it, and I said that’s all I needed to hear.”

Phillips went on to accuse Sandmann of being “coached” for his interview and said that the student’s words lacked sincerity and a sense of responsibility. He thought even less of Sandmann’s written statement, which was shaped by a Louisville-based public relations firm.

Despite everything, though, Phillips said that he is able to forgive Sandmann and those responsible for allowing the altercation to transpire.

“Even though I’m angry, I still have that forgiveness in my heart for those students,” Phillips said. “And that forgiveness even goes to those chaperones and those teachers.”

Watch the interview in its entirety above.

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