COVINGTON, Ky. (KTVU, AP) - The school at the center of the controversial video, showing an encouter between teens and a Native American elder, was closed on Tuesday while protests continued over the emotionally charged incident.
Covington Catholic High School in Park Hills, Kentucky said it shut down its campus as a security precaution. The school and its studenst have been targetted with threats. There was also a small protest outside Diocese of Covington as part of the ongoing fallout following a confrontation involving white teenagers, Native American marchers and a black religious sect outside the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. on Friday.
"Due to threats of violence and the possibility of large crowds the Diocese was advised to close Covington Catholic High School, the Diocesan Curia and neighboring Covington Latin School," said a joint statement from the school and the Diocese of Covington.
The statement went on to say, "Concerning the incident in Washington, D.C., between Covington Catholic students, Elder Nathan Phillips and Black Hebrew Israelites the independent, third-party investigation is planned to begin this week. This is a very serious matter that has already permanently altered the lives of many people. It is important for us to gather the facts that will allow us to determine what corrective actions, if any, are appropriate."
The incident prompted reaction from President Trump early Tuesday who tweeted that the students at the school "have become symbols of Fake News and how evil it can be" but says he hopes the teens will use the attention for good, and "maybe even to bring people together."
The recorded images that initially generated outrage on social media were tightly focused on the students wearing "Make America Great Again" hats who seemed to laugh derisively as they surrounded an elderly Native American beating a drum.
Longer videos from wider perspectives emerged later over the Martin Luther King holiday weekend. They revealed that the drummer had intervened between the boys and the religious sect, at a moment when the teens seemed to be getting rowdier and the black street preacher with a megaphone who had been making racist statements against both groups was escalating his rhetoric.
Both sides have argued that they felt victimized and misunderstood. The incident has triggered strong reaction and outrage from the public, as well as the parties involved.
"We just don't know what the volatility of the situation is with these people that react and they don't know the full story. And it's very scary," Jill Hamlin of Cincinnati, who was there to chaperone as the boys attended an anti-abortion rally, told FOX News Tuesday morning.
The American Indian Movement Chapter of Indiana and Kentucky held a small protest outside the Roman Catholic Diocese of Covington, with activists outnumbered by the media.
The school's principal, Robert Rowe, said that "after meeting with local authorities," they decided to close the campus "to ensure the safety of our students, faculty and staff."
The diocese, which initially issued a statement criticizing the boys' behavior, was unavailable for comment Tuesday morning. Both the school and the diocese websites were taken offline.
Kentucky's governor also weighed in, saying he was saddened by what happened.
"It was amazing how quick those who preach tolerance and non-judgment of others were to judge and label some high school students based on partial information," Gov. Matt Bevin tweeted. "In a world where we have a wealth of information at our fingertips, we have increasingly little discernment and wisdom... Facts matter...The truth matters...Context matters... A little more genuine caring for one another and a little less digital vitriol would be good for all."