ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – New Mexico Congresswoman Deb Haaland is among a handful of politicians, celebrities and journalists now being sued for their tweets.
Lawyers for a group of Kentucky teenagers from Covington Catholic High School claim Haaland and others defamed them on Twitter, by tweeting “false” statements about a January 2019 incident on the Washington Mall.
The incident in front of the Lincoln Memorial sparked a media firestorm. Cell phone video showed the group of teens face-to-face with a Native American activist, Nathan Phillips, who was playing a drum.
Phillips admitted he approached the teens to defuse growing tension between the high school group and another group of protestors on the mall known as the “Black Hebrew Israelites.” The two groups were said to be exchanging words over the course of more than an hour.
However, initial descriptions of the video accused the boys of mocking Phillips as he played a drum.
The initial descriptions lead to many reactions, including one by Congresswoman Haaland on Twitter.
Linking to another post about the video, Haaland tweeted, “This Veteran put his life on the line for our country. The students’ display of blatant hate, disrespect, and intolerance is a signal of how common decency has decayed under this administration. Heartbreaking.”
In a second tweet later that day, Haaland wrote, “A Native American Vietnam War veteran was seen being harassed and mocked by a group of MAGA hat-wearing teens.” Haaland also linked to a news story about the incident.
Lawyers representing eight of the so-called “Covington Boys” claim Haaland’s words were “false and defaming.” Representatives for the boys claim, “none of (the victims) harassed or mocked anyone, and particularly no Native American ‘war veterans.’”
Haaland is among eleven others named in the lawsuit, including U.S. Senator and presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren, political pundit Anna Navarro, and actress Kathy Griffin.
Each of the eight teens are asking for up to $50,000 a piece from Haaland and each other defendant.
A spokeswoman for Congresswoman Haaland told KRQE News 13 Monday that the congresswoman hasn’t received or reviewed the lawsuit yet.
A similar libel lawsuit filed against the Washington Post newspaper earlier this year was dismissed on free speech grounds.