A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Jesse Brewer: Catastrophe on many levels, students’ DC experience shows need to wait for all facts


The recent events that unfolded this past weekend in Washington D.C., involving students from Covington Catholic High School, are nothing short of a catastrophe on many levels.

Clearly, we are a nation divided by beliefs and politics, and its clear that some people will try to destroy anyone and anything that they perceive to be in their way if it will further their agenda and cause, no matter the consequences it may bring.

After an early, one-sided video and accompanying social-media push reported a “confrontation” between a Native American marcher and students from Covington Catholic, who were attending a separate Right to Life march in Washington, several much longer videos surfaced that provided a more accurate picture of the situation.

Jesse Brewer

If you watched only the first video or the social-media fury accompanying it was your only source of information about the incident, you were likely to condemn these students and find fault with their actions, proclaiming the students guilty and demanding justice, which is exactly what many people did.

In this day and age, with instant access to any number of Internet platforms via your cell phone, anyone can push out any message he or she wants. It’s easy to manipulate facts, play on emotionally charged environments in an already hostile political world, and start and feed a viral firestorm.

Unfortunately, when that happens, innocent people, people who are not racist, xenophobic, or full of hate, but on the contrary, are full of love and respect for their community, country, and religion get destroyed. Because of the “MAGA” hats they wore, because their Catholic school shirts, and because they were predominantly young, white men, I believe these students became an unsuspecting target in a political gambit perpetuated by experienced, professional provocateurs.

These provocateurs had a political agenda they want to achieve; they wanted to contrast with the beliefs of these young men from Covington Catholic. And with the power of social media and their supporters in the social media realm, they did just that. Once again, an example of the Internet run amok with no real accountability, wrongfully railing against these young men and what they stood for in their trip to Washington.

The fallout from these recent events will last a lifetime for these young men, who were simply at the wrong place at the wrong time in a politically charged environment not of their making. While most of the people who shared inaccurate stories on their social-media channels or took the time to make hateful comments themselves, they get to go on living normal lives as if nothing ever happened. For these young men, they now have to carry this crowd-sourced shame with them for the rest of their lives.

Will they have fears about their own personal safety, the safety of their families, their school, their church, and their friends? Will they have fears about their future, especially if they don’t get into a particular school, don’t get a certain job, or don’t get accepted into an organization or club? Will these inaccurate and insensitive news stories continue to follow them in cyberspace for the rest of their lives?

We as a society must change our behaviors. We must not be so quick to react to emotionally charged news, particularly if we don’t know all of the facts. We must let all these facts come out first, contemplate those facts thoughtfully, and then decide how we feel about these facts and whether we should comment on them. If we don’t do that, then this divisiveness and these trials by social media will only continue to become even more accepted, damning, and worse than they already are today.

Jesse Brewer is Boone County Commissioner, District 3, in Boone County.

* * * * * * * * *

Here are some sample videos — check internet for others.

An early video — confrontation with Nathan Phillips.

Another video of the incident with the Native Americans.

Another video re the student crowd

The long (nearly 2 hours) video that shows confrontation with Black activists.


Related Posts

One Comment

  1. Jason Byrne says:

    Great work Commissioner Brewer!!

Reply to Jason Byrne Cancel Reply