Singer Ted Nugent has been accused of hate speech for telling Trump fans to go “berserk on the skulls of the Democrats” – hours after an alleged white supremacist killed 10 people in a mass shooting at a grocery store.
Performing at a Trump event in Austin, Texas, the 73-year-old told cheering supporters that Democrats were “the enemies of America” and repeated Donald Trump’s discredited “Big Lie” conspiracy that he was cheated out of victory in the 2020 election.
Nugent said he wanted “everyone in your life to think of what the enemies of America have done in the last 14 months”.
“And that they didn’t sneak into the White House – they lied, they cheated, they scammed. And every day the Democrats violate their sacred oath to the Constitution. And if you can’t impress your friends on that, they shouldn’t be your friends.”
After talking about his vintage guitar, he added: “So I love you people madly but I’d love you more if you went forward and just went berserk on the skulls of the Democrats and the Marxists and the communists.”
Nugent was speaking on the same day that an alleged white supremacist – who reportedly cited the racist “great replacement” theory in a manifesto – killed 10 people and wounded three others in a mass shooting at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York.
Payton Gendron, 18, has been charged with 10 counts of murder. He had apparently deliberately targeted African Americans and 11 of the 13 people he shot were Black.
Shannon Watts, of the gun safety campaign group Moms Demand Action, retweeted a report of Nugent’s comments about crushing the skulls of Democrats, adding: “Ted Nugent, former NRA Board member, to Donald Trump today during a rally that took place as a mass shooting by a white supremacist and conspiracy theorist unfolded at a grocery store in a Black neighborhood in Buffalo.
“When will we hold the GOP accountable for this hate speech?”
Mr Trump himself has repeatedly been accused of urging violence against his political opponents. A new book by his Defense Secretary, Mark Esper, says the former president asked if he could order the army to shoot Black Lives Matter protesters – something Mr Trump has denied.
During protests in support of racial justice during summer 2020 he tweeted “When the looting starts, the shooting starts”, which earned him a Twitter warning label for glorifying violence. In 2021 he was banned from Twitter for good amid concerns he would incite more violence following the attack on the Capitol by his supporters, as a result of which at least five people died. Elon Musk, who is in negotiations to buy Twitter, has said that he would allow the former president back on the platform, although Mr Trump has insisted he has no intention of returning.
During his first run for the presidency, in 2016, Mr Trump said he would pay the legal bills of anyone arrested for attacking protesters, some of whom he feared may have tomatoes to throw at him. He later claimed he had never said he would pay anyone’s legal fees.