Kentucky Senate candidate wears noose in ad to highlight history of lynching

Kentucky progressive Charles Booker speaks during the "Commitment March: Get Your Knee Off Our Necks" protest against racism and police brutality in 2020 in Washington, DC.
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Kentucky Democratic Senate nominee Charles Booker released a new ad on Tuesday in which he wears a noose to criticize his opponent, Sen. Rand Paul (R), for opposing a 2020 bill making lynching a federal hate crime.

The ad begins by showing a noose hanging from a tree before cutting to an image of a noose and gallows erected outside the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. Booker proceeds to wear the noose as he continues narrating.

“In a historic victory for our commonwealth, I have become the first Black Kentuckian to receive the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate,” Booker says.

“My opponent: the very person who compared expanded health care to slavery, the person who said he would have opposed the Civil Rights Act, the person who single-handedly blocked an anti-lynching act from being federal law,” he continued. “The choice couldn’t be clearer.”

Paul had objected in 2020 to a bill making lynching a federal hate crime after it had passed the House, holding up quick passage. 

“We want the bill to be stronger,” he said at the time. “We think that lynching is an awful thing that should be roundly condemned and should be universally condemned. I don’t think it’s a good idea to conflate someone who has an altercation where they had minor bruises with lynching.”

Paul supported the latest version of the bill, named after Emmitt Till, whose 1955 lynching and open-casket funeral helped fuel the civil rights movement. Paul said he had worked with Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Tim Scott (R-S.C.) to clarify the language.

The bill passed the Senate by unanimous consent and was signed into law by President Biden in March.

“Do we move forward together, or do we let politicians like Rand Paul forever hold us back and drive us apart?” Booker said in the ad.

“In November, we will choose healing,” he said, removing the noose. “We will choose Kentucky.”

Booker did not mention Paul’s eventual support in the ad.

“Dr. Paul worked diligently with Senators Booker and Scott to strengthen the language of this legislation and is a cosponsor of the bill that now ensures that federal law will define lynching as the absolutely heinous crime that it is,” Jake Cox, Paul’s deputy campaign manager, told The Hill. “Any attempt to state otherwise is a desperate misrepresentation of the facts.”

This story was updated at 3:23 p.m.

Tags Charles Booker Charles Booker Cory Booker Kentucky senate race lynching noose political ad Rand Paul Rand Paul

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