A day after video of his encounter with a group of Roman Catholic high school teens from Covington, Ky., went viral, a Native American rights activist tried to enter the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., during a Saturday night Mass, according to reports.
An unnamed security guard told the Catholic News Agency that a group of 20 demonstrators led by Nathan Phillips was stopped while trying to enter the church, playing drums and chanting, during a 5:15 p.m. service.
“It was really upsetting,” the guard told CNA. “There were about twenty people trying to get in, we had to lock the doors and everything. We had hundreds and hundreds of people from all over the country come here to celebrate life, to celebrate each other together. That a protest tried to come inside during Mass was really the worst.”
A spokesperson for the Shrine told CNA that the group “did assemble on Saturday evening outside the shrine” but would not say if they tried entering during the Mass. Calls and email to the church were not immediately returned late Tuesday.
Philips and the schoolboys from Kentucky’s Covington Catholic High School have drawn national attention over a Friday encounter between some of the school’s students and Native American adults near the Lincoln Memorial. Footage posted on social media showed one student standing face-to-face with Phillips, 64, and others chanting, jeering and laughing while surrounding him.
Then more footage emerged, showing that the teens were shouting "school spirit" chants to drown out racially charged comments by a third group, called the Hebrew Israelites.