Native American activist Nathan Phillips' past includes assault charge, escape from prison: report

Native American activist Nathan Phillips, whose confrontation with Covington Catholic High School students went viral, has a criminal record, including assault and escape from prison, according to a report.

Philips has become the focal point of the clash with the Kentucky students, after initially claimed that the students blocked his exit and taunted him with abusive and racist chants.

New additional footage that emerged over the weekend has since debunked his version of the event, showing him approaching the students rather than the students taunting him. He later claimed he tried to defuse a clash between the students and a group of black street preachers who were shouting racist insults at both the Native Americans and the white kids.

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At the beginning of the controversy, Phillips largely avoided scrutiny. But according to the Washington Examiner, Phillips' past includes being arrested and charged with escaping from prison, assault, and several alcohol-related crimes.

In 1974, Phillips pleaded guilty to assault charges and was fined $200. In later years, he faced numerous other charges and arrest. He was also sentenced to one year of probation stemming from charges of alcohol possession by a minor, the report said.

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His military service record was also called into question. The Marine Corps confirmed to Fox News on Wednesday that Phillips never served in the Vietnam War and wasn’t deployed overseas.

Phillips, then known as Nathaniel R. Stanard, served in the Marine Corps Reserve for four years before leaving in 1976 with the rank of private. During his time in the Marine Reserve, he was a refrigerator technician and anti-tank missileman.

This appears contrary to his remarks to Vogue, where he said, “You know, I’m from Vietnam times. I’m what they call a recon ranger. That was my role.”

Numerous outlets, including the Washington Post and the Detroit Free Press, have issued corrections to their articles that incorrectly identified Phillips as a Vietnam War veteran, noting Phillips’ lack of deployments to the war.

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Since the controversy, Phillips has since offered to visit the Covington school and lead a dialogue about cultural understanding.

Covington Catholic student Nick Sandmann, seen in the viral video with Phillips, told NBC's "Today" show on Wednesday that he'd like to speak with Phillips as well.

Fox News’ Samuel Chamberlain contributed to this report.