National News

Pro-Trump Fan of Social Distortion Says Lead Singer Punched Him at Concert

Posted August 16, 2018 12:26 a.m. EDT

The police in Sacramento, California, are investigating allegations that the lead singer of the pop-punk band Social Distortion punched a fan who protested his diatribe against President Donald Trump during a concert last month.

The fan, Tom Hildebrand, 30, said in an interview Wednesday that the lead singer, Mike Ness, called the president a bigot and a racist during a concert July 19 at the Ace of Spades. In response, Hildebrand said, he protested by holding up his middle finger. He kept it there for two to three songs and Ness eventually called him forward, Hildebrand said, adding that Ness punched him repeatedly in the head.

Linda Matthew, a public information officer for the Sacramento Police Department, said Wednesday the department was “aware of the allegations” and was investigating.

Representatives for the band and for Ness, who criticized Trump during a concert last year, could not be reached for comment Wednesday night.

The recent episode gained traction online after videos of part of it surfaced last week. An interview Hildebrand gave a local television station, CBS Sacramento, was broadcast Tuesday night, and he said he received crude messages on social media from about a hundred people as other news outlets picked up the story.

Hildebrand, a longtime fan of Social Distortion, said he was not alone in the rebuttal to Ness’ speech, which he described as “anti-American” and “anti-Trump.” He saw some people walk out and others yell expletives at the singer. “It wasn’t like I was the single pea in the pod,” he said.

Hildebrand, a Republican, said that while he does not agree with everything Trump does, he believes in supporting him as president of the United States.

During Ness’ speech, Hildebrand said, he shouted “I paid for your music, not your politics,” before holding up his middle finger and pointing it at the stage for the rest of the performance.

The band left the stage and returned for an encore, Hildebrand recalled. It was halfway through another song that he saw Ness point at him, beckoning him forward. In a video of the episode posted online, Ness can be seen yelling at someone in the crowd.

“As soon as I get up to the front fence, he starts cussing at me,” Hildebrand said, adding that he yelled back after Ness spit on him.

Ness then took off his guitar and jumped off the stage, Hildebrand said, and began punching him in the head before he was pulled back by security guards. It is unclear in the video what Ness does once he jumps off the stage.

Hildebrand said he could not defend himself because some people in the crowd held him back.

Hildebrand said security guards eventually tugged him out of the crowd after he asked for help. In the video, Ness is seen back onstage, pointing into the crowd and saying, “Just stick around, buddy.”

Hildebrand said he filed a report with Sacramento police officers who were at the concert. He said the beating left him with two black eyes, a busted lip and a concussion, adding that he did not go to the hospital because he had to go out of town the next day.

Hildebrand, who was not wearing any Trump memorabilia at the concert, said that he had not gone to the concert with any intent to protest, but that he needed to speak his mind.

“If you can speak your mind but you can’t take a response or rebuttal,” he said, “it shows a lot about your character.”