Politics came to blows at a Social Distortion concert in Sacramento when the punk rock band’s frontman, Mike Ness, allegedly punched a disgruntled concertgoer who raised his middle finger in protest of the singer’s comments about Trump.
The alleged incident occurred at popular Sacramento concert venue Ace of Spades on July 19.
Sacramento Police confirmed they “investigated a call of an assault” at 10:30 p.m. the night of the concert. Sgt. Vance Chandler, spokesman for the Sacramento Police Department, said the investigation is ongoing.
News outlets from across the nation have covered the incident since video from that night, appearing to show Ness jump from the stage and engage in a physical altercation, was posted online.
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An employee at Ace of Spades said they could not assist in providing information about the incident and a request for comment was not returned by the band’s publicity contact.
But the concertgoer, identified as Tim Hildebrand, has been outspoken about the night of the event. The New York Times identified the 30-year-old as a long-time Social Distortion fan as well as a Republican and Trump supporter.
In an interview with CBS 13, Hildebrand said Ness began to talk about President Donald Trump about halfway through the show.
“How he’s a bigot and racist and the detention camps for ICE and all the lies that everyone has been hearing and the lies that the left preaches all the time,” he said in the interview.
Hildebrand said he decided to stand in “silent protest” with his middle finger raised for the next two songs. Ness noticed, called him to the front of the stage, and, Hildebrand said, “attacked” him, causing black eyes, a hole in his lip, loosened teeth and a concussion.
Ed Emerson, a Sacramento resident and a Social Distortion fan for over 25 years, said Ness has a reputation for vocalizing his political agenda, but that’s a characteristic synonymous with the entirety of the punk rock genre.
“It’s like seeing U2, you can’t avoid it,” he said. “The guy that got in the fight … either he doesn’t know who Social Distortion is, or he doesn’t know anything about their music.”
Emerson said he’s been to three or four other Social Distortion concerts and has absolutely heard Ness talk politics before. Although he has never seen the singer get off the stage and confront a fan.
Sitting up top, Emerson said he couldn’t clearly see what occurred during the altercation. But if you give someone the finger, he asked, “what exactly are you saying?”
“If you’re not mature enough or adult enough or sober enough to be prepared for the consequences, then what happens, happens,” Emerson said. “But I don’t think somebody giving you the finger justifies punching him, if he did indeed punch him.”