Comedic country singer Wheeler Walker Jr. came under fire for asking his fans to punch the Kentucky high school student in the viral video with a Native American veteran.
Walker, the professional name of comedian and actor Ben Hoffman, tweeted on Saturday, "I know I have fans in Paris Hills, Ky. If you know this little s–, punch him in the nuts and send me the video of it and I'll send you all my albums on vinyl, autographed."
The tweet has since been deleted, but it was up long enough for screenshots to spread and spark outrage.
"Why’d you delete this, tough guy? What, don’t you still want to see this kid get punched in the nuts? You know, a KID?" one person tweeted.
"Hey big man isn't this considered a felony? either way good job getting suckered in by fake news you f– muppet," another person wrote.
"Enjoy the jail time. Calls to violence are illegal and not protected by the first amendment," another tweeted to Walker.
On Saturday, a short video from Friday's Indigenous Peoples March in Washington D.C. went viral, appearing to show a group of students from Covington Catholic High School in Park Hills, Kentucky confronting Native American veteran Nathan Phillips went viral. One particular screenshot tweeted hundreds of times showed Nick Sandmann, who was wearing a "Make America Great Again" hat, smirking while Phillips beat a drum.
In his interviews, Phillips said the incident happened after the students saw a Black Hebrew Israelites group speaking at the Lincoln Memorial, where the students were waiting for their buses to go back to Kentucky. Phillips told the Detroit Free Press that the students were mocking Native Americans, chanting "Build the wall" and using derogatory language.
Sandmann and his family later sent a long statement to the Cincinnati Inquirer, in which he disputed Phillips' story.
"At no time did I hear any student chant anything other than the school spirit chants. I did not witness or hear any students chant 'build that wall' or anything hateful or racist at any time," the statement read. "Assertions to the contrary are simply false. Our chants were loud because we wanted to drown out the hateful comments that were being shouted at us by the protestors."
Sandmann also claimed he was "not intentionally making faces at the protestor," adding, "I did smile at one point because I wanted him to know that I was not going to become angry, intimidated or be provoked into a larger confrontation. I am a faithful Christian and practicing Catholic, and I always try to live up to the ideals my faith teaches me – to remain respectful of others, and to take no action that would lead to conflict or violence."
The Diocese of Covington issued a statement late Saturday, condemning the "actions" of the students towards Phillips.
"The matter is being investigated and we will take appropriate action, up to and including expulsion," the diocese and school said. "We know this incident also has tainted the entire witness of the March for Life and express our most sincere apologies to all those who attended the March and all those who support the pro-life movement."1comments
Walker has released three albums, including last year's WWIII. He is also a writer and actor, with appearances in Drunk History and New Girl.
Photo credit: Jason Kempin/Getty Images for Americana Music Association