A group of protesters in Kentucky on Sunday hung an effigy of Gov. Andy Beshear (D) outside the state Capitol during a rally celebrating the Second Amendment and opposing coronavirus restrictions.
The demonstration was advertised on the Facebook page of the group Take Back Kentucky and billed as an opportunity for individuals to "celebrate freedom and to fight back against the unconstitutional shutdown over the Coronavirus." The group has said that it was not involved in the rally's planning.
The event attracted approximately 100 people to the Kentucky state Capitol, The Louisville Courier Journal reported.
As the rally entered its final stages, organizers reportedly led a crowd to the governor's mansion as part of an attempt to deliver a message asking Beshear to resign. During their walk to the residence, people could reportedly be seen carrying signs saying, “Abort Beshear from office” and "My rights don’t end where your fear begins."
The crowd also chanted "Come out Andy” and "Resign Andy," though no one came to the door while they were there.
Following the trip to the governor's mansion, the crowd returned to statehouse and an effigy with a picture of Beshear's face attached to it was hung from a tree with the message “sic semper tyrannis."
“Come out, Andy” chants in front of the governor’s mansion. pic.twitter.com/N52stx7fKB— Sarah Ladd (@ladd_sarah) May 24, 2020
The Courier Journal reported that the effigy was taken off the tree shortly after people captured photographs of it.
A representative from the group Take Back Kentucky told The Hill on Tuesday that it was not involved in the planning of the rally and that it would not have shared information about the event had it known “of the plan that certain individuals had to finish the rally in this manner.”
The group said it periodically shares information about other events on its Facebook page and that the promotional text it passed along may have been unclear.
The episode prompted outrage from state leaders of both parties.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSchumer vows to vote on Biden Supreme Court pick with 'all deliberate speed' It's time for 'Uncle Joe' to take off the gloves against Manchin and Sinema Democrats should ignore Senators Manchin and Sinema MORE (R-Ky.) said in a statement on Twitter that the actions were "unacceptable" and that "there is no place for hate in Kentucky.”
"This is disgusting and I condemn it wholeheartedly," Kentucky Secretary of State Michael G. Adams (R) said. "The words of John Wilkes Booth have no place in the Party of Lincoln."
This is disgusting and I condemn it wholeheartedly. The words of John Wilkes Booth have no place in the Party of Lincoln. https://t.co/mILfSMVEHy— KY Sec. of State Michael G. Adams (@KYSecState) May 24, 2020
"Hanging Governor Beshear in effigy is beyond reprehensible, and yet it is also the logical conclusion of the hateful rhetoric we saw touted on the Capitol grounds earlier this month that was implicitly condoned by elected representatives from the legislature’s majority party," Kentucky House Democratic leaders said in a statement. "Doing this in front of our Capitol, just a short walk from where the Governor, First Lady, and their two young children live, is an act that reeks of hate and intimidation and does nothing but undermine our leading work to battle this deadly disease and restore our economy safely."
Kentucky began gradually lifting its coronavirus restrictions and allowing certain businesses to reopen in late April. On Saturday, the state permitted restaurants to begin offering dine-in services with limited capacity.
Measures in response to the pandemic have prompted protests in several states, with demonstrators arguing that the restrictions go too far. However, a majority of Americans say they continue to support lockdown measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, according to an Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll released last week.
Updated: May 27 at 11:25 a.m.