In a statement, officials with the Diocese of Covington and Covington Catholic High School said police warned them of the planned protest in the days after video surfaced online that appeared to show teenagers from the school surrounding a Native American man outside the Lincoln Memorial in Washington.
“Due to threats of violence and the possibility of large crowds the Diocese was advised to close Covington Catholic High School, the Diocesan Curia and neighboring Covington Latin School,” officials said in the statement.
A video surfaced online last week of a student, who identified himself in a statement as Covington Catholic High School junior Nick Sandmann, smirking as a Native American elder beat a ceremonial drum near his face. The video sparked outrage nationwide, though longer videos from wider perspectives later revealed that the drummer -- Omaha Nation elder Nathan Phillips -- had intervened between the boys and members of a black religious sect, according to The Associated Press.
Phillips appeared to intervene at a time when the teens seemed to be getting rowdier and the black street preacher who had been shouting racist statements against both groups was escalating his rhetoric, the AP reported.
The incident drew the attention of President Donald Trump, who said Monday on Twitter that Sandmann and his classmates “were treated unfairly with early judgement s proving out to be false – smeared by media.”
Officials with the Diocese of Covington and Covington Catholic High School said a third-party investigation of the incident at the Lincoln Memorial will be launched this week.
“This is a very serious matter that has already permanently altered the lives of many people,” officials said. “It is important for us to gather the facts that will allow us to determine what corrective actions, if any, are appropriate. We pray that we may come to the truth and that this unfortunate situation may be resolved peacefully and amicably and ask others to join us in this prayer.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.