Protesters hanged an effigy of Gov Andy Beshear from a tree as they condemned his administration’s coronavirus restrictions at a Second Amendment rally in Kentucky over Memorial Day weekend.
At least 100 supporters of gun rights descended on the state capital in Frankfurt on Sunday for a “Patriot’s Day” event organized on Facebook by the group Take Back Kentucky, according to the Louisville Courier Journal.
The rally was originally intended to defend the right to bear arms but some demonstrators began to rage against the coronavirus restrictions implemented by the Beshear administration.
A contingent of the group walked down to the governor’s mansion, carrying signs that read “Abort Beshear from office” and “My rights don’t end where your fear begins.”
They also chanted, “Come out Andy” and “Resign Andy.”
The crowd then returned to the capitol where an effigy of Beshear was hung from a tree while “God Bless the U.S.A.” by Lee Greenwood played over a speaker.
A sign on the effigy said, “sic semper tyrannis,” which translates to “thus always to tyrants,” a phrase famously used by John Wilkes Booth after shooting President Abraham Lincoln.
Both Republican and Democrat leaders in the state condemned the hanging of the effigy.
Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell spoke out against the action on Twitter.
“As a strong defender of the First Amendment, I believe Americans have the right to peacefully protest,” he wrote. “However, today’s action toward Governor Beshear is unacceptable. There is no place for hate in Kentucky.”
Secretary of State Michael Adams, a Republican, tweeted that it was “disgusting.”
“I condemn it wholeheartedly,” he wrote. “The words of John Wilkes Booth have no place in the Party of Lincoln.”
Kentucky House Democratic Leader Joni Jenkins, House Democratic Caucus Chair Derrick Graham, and House Democratic Whip Angie Hatton issued a joint statement, calling the effigy “beyond reprehensible” and an “act that reeks of hate and intimidation.”
Crystal Staley, a spokeswoman for Beshear, said in a statement, “The act that was displayed on Capitol grounds today, near where the Governor and his young children live, was wrong and offensive.”
“This type of behavior must be condemned. As Kentuckians we should be able to voice our opinions without turning to hate and threats of violence. Put simply — we are and should be better than this.”
As of Sunday evening 8,842 residents of Kentucky have tested positive for the coronavirus while 399 people have died in the bluegrass state.