In what they claim is the “first of many lawsuits”, the lawyers of Covington High School Junior Nick Sandmann filed a hefty $250 million dollar lawsuit against The Washington Post on Tuesday.
“The Post rushed to lead the mainstream media to assassinate Nicholas’ character and bully him,” high-profile attorneys Lin Wood and Todd McMurty wrote in a summary of their lawsuit. The newspaper “[fanned] the flames of the social media mob into a mainstream media frenzy of false attacks and threats against Nicholas.”
Sandmann and his classmates became victims of false accusations of racism were leveled against them after a heavily edited video of the events that took place as the students were waiting for their bus after the 2019 March for Life went viral on social media. The video makes it appear as if Sandmann and his classmates were harassing Nathan Phillips, an elderly Native American who claims veteran status.
However, after further review of the entire video, it is clear that Phillips approached the Covington students, wading into the crowd chanting a Native American song and beating a drum inches from Sandmann’s face as members of the hate group, the Black Israelites, shouted derogatory racial slurs at the boys. The kids had been performing school cheers in an attempt to drown out the harassment and did not respond to adults’ insults and abuse in kind.
No video footage of the kids shouting “build the wall” exists despite reports from the media.
Below are both the full and edited video footage:
Adding to the video evidence that vindicated Sandmann and his peers, it then came to light that Phillips did not actually serve in Vietnam as he and multiple media outlets reported he did. He also has a violent criminal record, and attempted to lead protestors in disrupting Mass at the Basilica of National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception – where many pro-life events take place around the March for Life – just one day after he confronted Sandmann.
The lawsuit against the Washington Post says the newspaper engaged in “unlawful and bullying conduct at Nicholas.” The 115-pound 16-year-old, who was on his first-ever out-of-state field trip without his family, “suffered substantial reputational and emotional harm” as a result of the Post’s false reporting, his lawyers say. “The Post’s campaign to target Nicholas in furtherance of its political agenda was carried out by using its vast financial resources to enter the bully pulpit by publishing a series of false and defamatory print and online articles which effectively provided a worldwide megaphone to Phillips and other anti-Trump individuals and entities to smear a young boy who was in its view an acceptable casualty in their war against the President.”
“Unlike the Post’s abuse of the profession of journalism, Plaintiffs do not bring this lawsuit to use the judicial system to further a political agenda,” the lawyers maintain. “This lawsuit is brought against the Post 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.”
The incident resulted in the students receiving death threats, in addition to their school being shut down for a day and then guarded by a heavy police presence when it reopened.
Sandmann’s lawyers, Wood and McMurty, laid out their evidence that the Post, in a series of seven articles, published defamatory and false information about Sandmann, concluding, “As the natural and foreseeable consequence of its actions, the Post knew and intended that its False and Defamatory Accusations would be republished by others, including media outlets and others on social media.”
The attorneys say the newspaper published its pieces smearing Sandmann “negligently and with actual malice.”
“Here is the Complaint filed today against The Washington Post on behalf of Nick Sandmann. All members of the mainstream & social media mob of bullies who recklessly & viciously attacked Nick would be well-served to read it carefully,” Wood tweeted on Tuesday.