Nicholas Sandmann, the MAGA hat-wearing teen at the center of the highly publicized incident with Native American activist Nathan Phillips, is suing The Washington Post for $250 million, according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday.
Sandmann, a student from Covington Catholic High School in Kentucky, was part of a group of teens filmed surrounding Phillips while he performed an American Indian Movement song on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial last month at the National Mall.
The viral incident ― which was covered by many major news outlets ― caused nationwide outrage in the US at both ends of the political spectrum, with perceptions becoming more complicated after more than an hour of the footage from the encounter later emerged.
According to the lawsuit filed by attorneys Lin Wood and Todd McMurty, the Post’s coverage of the incident “wrongfully targeted and bullied” Sandmann “because he was the white, Catholic student wearing a red ‘Make America Great Again’ souvenir cap.”
In various interviews, Phillips maintained that he became surrounded by Sandmann and his peers after he tried to thwart any potential violence between them and a group identifying themselves as the Hebrew Israelites.
“It was getting ugly, and I was thinking: ‘I’ve got to find myself an exit out of this situation and finish my song at the Lincoln Memorial,’” he told The Washington Post. “I started going that way, and that guy in the hat [Sandmann] stood in my way, and we were at an impasse.”
Alleging that the newspaper “ignored basic journalist standards because it wanted to advance its well-known and easily documented, biased agenda against President Donald J. Trump,” the suit seeks damages “in excess of Two Hundred and Fifty Million Dollars ($250,000,000.00) ― the amount Jeff Bezos, the world’s richest person, paid in cash for the Post when is company, Nash Holdings, purchased the newspaper in 2013.”
Following the incident, a statement was released by a public relations firm on Sandmann’s behalf in which he claimed he had been singled out by Phillips and that he was only “helping to [defuse] the situation.” Then, in a subsequent interview with “Today,” the 16-year-old said that in hindsight he wished he could have “avoided the whole thing.”
The purpose of the lawsuit against the Post, the lawsuit says, is “to seek legal redress for its negligent, reckless, and malicious attacks on Nicholas which caused permanent damage to his life and reputation.
“The Post bullied an innocent child with an absolute disregard for the pain and destruction its attacks would cause to his life.”