COVINGTON, KY — A group of Covington Catholic students and their parents are suing major media companies and a New York physician for the way the group says the students were portrayed in a 2019 encounter with a Native American elder at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.
Videos of the Jan. 18, 2019, incident went viral after millions of people shared clips of Nathan Phillips beating a drum while face-to-face with Covington Catholic student Nicholas Sandmann.
After those videos were posted online, Sandmann and other Covington Catholic students received threats and condemnation for what was widely perceived as disrespectful behavior toward Phillips.
Longer clips of video soon emerged, prompting some people to change their perception of what occurred.
The students' supporters, including President Donald Trump, portrayed them as victims of a reckless media firestorm.
Sandmann filed federal lawsuits last year against The Washington Post, CNN and NBC Universal Media.
According to court records, CNN has agreed to a settlement with Sandmann.
In July 2019, U.S. District Judge William Bertelsman dismissed with prejudice Sandmann's lawsuit against The Washington Post.
The lawsuits filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Covington, Kentucky, name the Washington Post, NBC and CNN as defendants. CNN correspondent Bakari Sellers is also named as a defendant.
A New York medical doctor, Sujana Chandrasekhar, is also named in the lawsuit.
According to the civil complaint filed against her, Chandrasekhar shared online "the now infamous 'Wanted Poster' picturing CCH students, including Plaintiffs, at the Lincoln Memorial incident."
A copy of Chandrasekhar's alleged social media post, which is included in the complaint, shows photos of several dozen boys who are presented as Covington Catholic students involved in the incident.
"Our clients filed these actions to protect and safeguard their legal and Constitutional rights and those of other children who may be maligned," according to a written statement provided by the law firm of Poston, Seifried & Schloemer, which is representing the Covington Catholic students and parents in the lawsuits.
The lawsuits filed on Tuesday name 17 plaintiffs, including 10 parents representing five underage children.
The students had traveled to Washington to participate in an annual March For Life event.