Washington: A US teenager who was seen in a controversial video where he taunted a Native American elder, has sued The Washington Post for “compensatory and punitive damages”. Kentucky-based law firm Hemmer DeFrank Wessels on Tuesday said on its website that attorneys Lin Wood and Todd McMurtry have filed the lawsuit on behalf of Nicholas Sandmann against the newspaper, seeking $250 million in damages, reports CNN.
“This is only the beginning,” the firm added. Sandmann, a student at Covington Catholic High School, Park Hills, Kentucky, was in Washington on January 18 for the annual “March for Life” rally wearing a red “Make American Great Again” hat. In the video that gained national attention, he was in an encounter with Omaha tribe elder Nathan Phillips, who was playing a drum and chanting at the Indigenous Peoples March at the Lincoln Memorial on the same day.
Another video that surfaced days later provided additional context for the encounter, but the first video had gone viral, touching off widespread accusations of bigotry as photos of the teenager spread across social media. In the second video, a group of black men who identified as members of the Hebrew Israelites were seen taunting the students from Covington Catholic High School with disparaging language and shouting racist slurs at participants of the Indigenous Peoples Rally and other passersby.
The lawsuit claims that the Post “wrongfully targeted and bullied Nicholas because he was the white, Catholic student wearing the red cap”. A Washington Post spokeswoman told CNN that the paper is “reviewing a copy of the lawsuit and we plan to mount a vigorous defence”. Sandmann defended his actions at the time, saying he was trying to defuse the tension and denied allegations that anyone was acting out of racism.