A rally at the Kentucky State Capitol on Sunday ended with “several people” hanging an effigy of Gov. Andy Beshear from a tree and then marching to the governor’s mansion, chanting “Come out Andy,” according to tweets from a Courier Journal reporter.
The governor lives in the mansion with his wife and two children.
Reporter Sarah Ladd sent out a string of tweets from the rally late Sunday afternoon, including a photo of the effigy with a noose around its neck.
— Sarah Ladd 📰 (@ladd_sarah) May 24, 2020
It also had the Latin phrase “Sic semper tyrannis” on the back. The phrase is attributed to Marcus Iunius Brutus, who was one of Julius Caesar’s assassins, roughly translated to “thus always to tyrants.” The saying is also associated with John Wilkes Booth, as some historical accounts say he shouted it after assassinating President Abraham Lincoln.
According to a Facebook event, the “Patriot Day 2nd Amendment Rally” was a demonstration in support of gun rights, organized by Ben Kennedy. A spokesperson with Kentucky State Police said they aren’t answering any questions about the incident at this time.
Sunday evening, Crystal Staley, the communications director for Beshear’s office, shared the following statement with WFPL:
“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.”
The State Journal reported that many of the attendees came with firearms and received copies of the Constitution and sheets with the lyrics to “The Star Spangled Banner.”
Kentuckians spoke out against the effigy on social media. Some called it a display of White Supremacy, demanding elected officials of all political parties to speak out against it.
On Twitter, Kentucky Secretary of State Michael Adams said the effigy was “disgusting and I condemn it wholeheartedly.”
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
U.S. Senate candidate and state representative Charles Booker tweeted: “It’s not just the threat on his life, it’s the fact that they demonstrated an act rooted in our history of racism. I’ve had family lynched in Kentucky. This is vile and traumatic.”
An effigy of Gov. Beshear was hung on the grounds of our State Capitol.
It’s not just the threat on his life, it’s the fact that they demonstrated an act rooted in our history of racism. I’ve had family lynched in Kentucky. This is vile and traumatic.
My statement. pic.twitter.com/wbcWT56bRH
— Charles Booker (@Booker4KY) May 24, 2020
Kentucky’s Senate Democratic Leader, Morgan McGarvey, called it “a new low.”
This is a new low and it is disgusting and wrong. I wish I were more surprised but this vitriol comes from the top. I hope Republican leaders join me in condemning violent threats against any elected official. https://t.co/BS9WlWzmxN
— Morgan McGarvey (@MorganMcGarvey) May 24, 2020
Beshear is no longer routinely holding briefings every day, and didn’t hold any this weekend. On Saturday, about a dozen people with family members at the Green River Correctional Complex demonstrated at the Capitol alongside a “Reopen Kentucky” rally.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to include a statement from the governor’s office.