A number of lawyers offered free legal help to the Covington Catholic High School students after most news outlets published reports that were severely one-sided about an incident between the students and a group of Native American anti-President Donald Trump activists.
Relying on a snippet of video footage from Jan. 18 that didn’t show the full context, the outlets published articles conveying a one-sided view of the encounter, quoting the Native American activist, who is openly against Trump, while not representing at all the side of the teens wearing “Make America Great Again” hats.
For instance, the Washington Post, which is openly against Trump, reported that the teenagers chanted “build that wall,” despite the fact that the phrase couldn’t be heard in the full video that emerged. The Post described the unruly teens as perpetrators and the Native Americans as the victims and based its story around an interview with Phillips without providing a view from the students or their defenders.
Nick Sandmann, who identified himself as the student in the video, wrote that his family has been flooded with death threats and other hateful messages sparked in part from the biased reports.
“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,” he said in a statement.
“I am mortified that so many people have come to believe something that did not happen—that students from my school were chanting or acting in a racist fashion toward African Americans or Native Americans. I did not do that, do not have hateful feelings in my heart, and did not witness any of my classmates doing that.”
— Robert Barnes (@Barnes_Law) January 20, 2019
Lawyers noticed the questionable reporting and said that they would give free legal help to the students. “I will represent the kids for free if they want to sue Maggie Haberman for obvious libel,” wrote Robert Barnes, a trial lawyer.
Barnes wrote in response to Haberman, a New York Times reporter, posting that it would “be interesting to see if anyone is actually expelled.”
“Parents: Once you retain attorneys, and that’s only a matter of time, I’m offering my services up to 15 hours a week to help with discovery requests if need be, free of charge,” added another lawyer after activists began publishing information about Sandmann.
In response to the two posts, a number of other lawyers also said they’d be happy to help.
“I am licensed in KY. I will offer some pro bono time to help out, too,” added another Twitter user.
Calls for Violence
The biased reports also led to a number of activists calling for violence against the students.
“If you are a true fan of [me] I want you to fire on any of these red hat [expletive] when you see them,” said one Twitter account.
“If you know this little [expletive] then punch him and send me a video of it,” added musician Wheeler Walker Jr.
“Honest question. Have you ever seen a more punchable face than this kid’s?” said Reza Aslan, a former CNN analyst.
“Name these kids. I want NAMES. Shame them. If you think these [expletive] wouldn’t dox you in a heartbeat, think again,” said Kathy Griffin, a well-known liberal activist and former comedian.
Hollywood producer Jack Morrissey posted a short video showing a woodchipper and bodies being pushed through it. “MAGAkids go screaming, hats first, into the woodchipper.”