After a now infamous video clip showing a confrontation between Covington Catholic High School boys, black separatists, and Native American activists in Washington, D.C., went viral last month, an online outrage mob mistakenly identified Covington senior Michael Hodge as the boy who faced down Native American agitator Nathan Phillips.
Hodge, 18, was doxxed, even though he hadn’t even joined his classmates on their trip to D.C. for the March for Life, and the mob turned his life upside down with hateful messages and threats.
Phillips falsely claimed that the boys surrounded him menacingly and hurled racial slurs at him, and the media reported his defamatory smears without doing any basic fact-checking.
Video evidence and statements from multiple witnesses quickly emerged showing that the boys were the ones who were targeted with hateful slurs while waiting for their bus to take them home to Kentucky after participating in the March for Life.
“It was crazy to see all the people, you know, so quick to judge,” Hodge told the Courier-Journal:
Doxxed Covington Catholic senior helped raise $21K for nonprofit refuge https://t.co/Ipj56mrmJN
— Courier Journal (@courierjournal) February 10, 2019
Around the time of the Saturday incident, social media users began posting that Hodge aspired to be a chef and had applied to Cincinnati State, using information from school and community magazines.
Hundreds sent “hurtful things and threats” to Hodge, he said, and dozens more made harassing calls to his mother.
The vitriol felt unrelenting.
Police officers escorted Hodge to school those first few days back. His mother, Pamela Hodge, feared for his safety.
Hodge and his family decided to turn a negative into a positive by raising money for a Catholic non-profit that serves meals to the poor.
Michael had helped prepare and serve meals for the needy at Mary Rose Mission, a Catholic organization in Florence, Ky., last summer.
“We were in such a bad spot, so negative for so long,” said Hodge’s father, John Hodge. “My wife said, ‘What can we do to change this? Make some good out of this?'”
They mulled creating a fundraiser for Mary Rose, to channel the attention away from hate. They feared it would create more unwanted attention, but ultimately decided to go through with it.
With donations made by check and through GoFundMe, the family raised more than $20,000. The Hodges made a $250 anonymous donation themselves and later donated $600 more to offset a GoFundMe service fee.
Last Friday the family was able to present a $21,170 check to the Mary Rose Mission.
And thankfully, Cincinnati State officials have assured Michael Hodge that the doxxing will not affect his college application. As he waits for a response and applies for scholarships, Hodge says the atmosphere at Covington Catholic has pretty much returned to normal.
“I’m going to be optimistic,” he said. “Just with anything, good can come out of it.”
On February 11, after a weeks-long investigation, the Diocese of Covington finally cleared the boys of any wrongdoing in the affair.
“Our inquiry, conducted by a third party firm that has no connection with Covington Catholic High School or the Diocese of Covington, has demonstrated that our students did not instigate the incident that occurred at the Lincoln Memorial,” Covington Bishop Foys said in a statement.
The diocese had initially, without evidence, joined the social justice mob and condemned the teens for allegedly mocking Phillips.
Later, the bishop said that the diocese “felt bullied and pressured” into condemning the teens too quickly.
Now the bishop says: “In truth, taking everything into account, our students were placed in a situation that was at once bizarre and even threatening.”
Their reaction to the situation was, given the circumstances, expected and one might even say laudatory. These students had come to Washington, D.C. to support life. They marched peacefully with hundreds of thousands of others – young and old and in-between – to further the cause of life. These young high school students could never have expected what they experienced on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial while waiting for the busses to take them home. Their stance there was surely a pro-life stance. I commend them.
The dioceses’ final investigative report is available here.