White House reaches out to Kentucky students, voices support

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COVINGTON, Ky. — Press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders says the White House has reached out to students at a Kentucky high school who became embroiled in an encounter with a Native American activist and a black religious sect that was captured on video.

Videos posted of the confrontation drew wide criticism on social media, but it’s not entirely clear what happened. The various sides say they were misunderstood.

Sanders says, “we’ve reached out and voiced our support.” She says no one understands better than President Donald Trump when the media jumps to conclusions and “attacks you for something you may or may not have done.”

She says if the president does invite the students from Covington Catholic High School to the White House, it will be sometime after the government shutdown has concluded.

President Donald Trump tweeted early Tuesday that the students at Covington Catholic High 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.

Catholic church officials in Kentucky say an independent, third-party investigation will begin this week into the encounter.

The Diocese of Covington said Friday’s encounter near the Lincoln Memorial is “a very serious matter that has already permanently altered the lives of many people.” The statement by the Roman Catholic diocese adds that facts will be gathered to determine “what if any corrective actions, if any, are appropriate.”

The statement didn’t elaborate on the investigation or who would conduct it.

The Kentucky boys’ school shut its campus Tuesday as a precaution and a small protest was held outside the diocese amid continuing fallout from the encounter, which was recorded on video that went viral. The statement says police recommended the closure because of the possibility of large crowds. Those didn’t materialize, and the diocese says the school will reopen once law enforcement says “it is safe to do so.”

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