Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (D) on Tuesday spoke out after a group of protesters rallying to celebrate the Second Amendment and oppose coronavirus restrictions hung an effigy of the state leader outside the capitol.
"I will not be afraid," Beshear said in a statement. "I will not be bullied. And I will not back down. Not to them, and not to anybody else."
The governor added that he owes it to the "people of Kentucky not to bow to terror, but to continue to do what's right, for their families, and for mine."
The effigy of Beshear was hung during a protest over Memorial Day weekend that was advertised by the group Take Back Kentucky on Facebook as an opportunity 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 and that it wouldn't have shared information about it had it known some of the individuals' intentions.
I will not be afraid. I will not be bullied. And I will not back down. Not to them, and not to anybody else. ^AB pic.twitter.com/tovAglyHez— Governor Andy Beshear (@GovAndyBeshear) May 26, 2020
Roughly 100 people congregated outside the Kentucky state Capitol on Sunday for the demonstration, The Louisville Courier-Journal reported. Footage of the protest showed a group of individuals marching to the governor's mansion as part of an attempt to deliver a message asking for Beshear's resignation.
Demonstrators reportedly carried signs saying, “Abort Beshear from office” and "My rights don’t end where your fear begins." They also repeatedly chanted "Come out Andy" while crowding outside his residence.
After returning to the state Capitol, two individuals hung an effigy to a tree with a picture of Beshear's face attached to it. The effigy included the message, "sic semper tyrannis," emblazoned across it.
“Come out, Andy” chants in front of the governor’s mansion. pic.twitter.com/N52stx7fKB— Sarah Ladd (@ladd_sarah) May 24, 2020
Republican and Democratic state leaders roundly condemned the episode. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellFixing Congress requires fixing how it legislates McConnell: GOP should focus on future, not 'rehash' 2020 Hoyer: Democrats 'committed' to Oct. 31 timeline for Biden's agenda MORE (R-Ky.) called the actions "unacceptable" and Kentucky Secretary of State Michael G. Adams (R) branded it "disgusting."
"I condemn it wholeheartedly," he said. "The words of John Wilkes Booth have no place in the Party of Lincoln."
Kentucky House Democratic leaders also said in a statement that the act reeked of "hate and intimidation and does nothing but undermine our leading work to battle this deadly disease and restore our economy safely."
Kentucky was one of many states to institute social-distancing restrictions at the outset of the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S. The state began gradually lifting some of those measures and allowing certain businesses to reopen in late April. The state on Saturday allowed restaurants to start offering dine-in service at reduced capacity.
UPDATED Wednesday 11:34 a.m.