Nick Sandmann told “Today” show host Savannah Guthrie that he wishes he and his classmates had walked away from an incident that has sparked debate across the country.
Nick, wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat, stood opposite Nathan Phillips at the Lincoln Memorial as his classmates chanted around them. Nick is a junior at Covington Catholic High School.
Some felt Nick and his classmates were disrespectful. Others thought they handled the situation with aplomb and were wrongly attacked.
“Do you feel from this experience that you owe anybody an apology?” Guthrie asks Nick in a 30-second clip of their interview, which will air tomorrow on the “Today” show at 7 a.m. “Do you see your own fault in any way?”
Nick responds by saying: “As far as standing there, I had every right to do so. I don’t – I – 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.”
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Sandmann released a statement on Sunday.
“I never interacted with this protester. 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,” Sandmann said in the statement.
According to Phillips, he approached the group of teenagers after he felt that their interactions with a group of Black Hebrew Israelites were going to escalate.
Phillips said some of the members of the Hebrew Israelites group were also acting up, “saying some harsh things” and that one member spit in the direction of the Covington Catholic students.
“So I put myself in between that, between a rock and hard place,” he said.
“There was that moment when I realized I’ve put myself between beast and prey,” Phillips told the Detroit Free Press. “These young men were beastly and these old black individuals was their prey, and I stood in between them and so they needed their pounds of flesh and they were looking at me for that.”
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