Beshear hanged in effigy as Second Amendment supporters rally at Capitol before Memorial Day
An effigy of Gov. Andy Beshear was hanged from a tree outside the Kentucky state Capitol during a Memorial Day weekend protest. Louisville Courier Journal
What started out as a freedom-loving celebration of the Second Amendment ahead of Memorial Day turned into Gov. Andy Beshear being hanged in effigy and protesters chanting outside the governor’s mansion.
The Second Amendment rally, meant to inspire people “about what it really means to be FREE,” according to Take Back Kentucky, attracted at least 100 people on Sunday. They gathered from 1-4 p.m. at the Kentucky State Capitol in Frankfort.
It began as a celebration of constitutional rights but turned into a protest of coronavirus restrictions and Beshear’s administration. Folks toted their guns and waved American and “Don’t tread on me” flags. Taps honored the fallen, and free flags were given to veterans from all military branches.
Ed Bruce, who carried a replica colonial-era gun with a tag that read “1st Assault Rifle,” said he came out to make a point: government shouldn’t control what types of guns he or other law-abiding citizens carry, he said.
Bruce, who said he doesn’t vote strictly along party lines, said, “The way they’ve been trampling my rights here lately leaves a bad taste in my mouth.” Specifically, he said, local government has used the pandemic to restrict otherwise free movement.
Tony Wheatley of Constitutional Kentucky, invoking Benjamin Franklin, said, “We have a republic, if we can keep it.” Calling on the crowd to recognize their ownership of the Constitution, he called legal hurdles making it harder to protest corruption.
Pastor Cliff Christman said that law isn’t relative, and to understand the country’s laws, one should understand Biblical law.
“This has been one of the biggest shams in world history,” Christman said. “Grown men have been hiding in (their) homes nearly wetting their pants over this invisible enemy that nobody sees. Where is it at? Let it come out and face us. I serve the one true and living God who conquers all enemies. Why should we give our freedom and our liberties up for such fear (and) propaganda and all the garbage that is coming out of Frankfort today?”
A Louisville evangelist, Pharoah Nuahzee, said the coronavirus pandemic had brought out enemies of God. TJ Roberts, a Maryville Baptist Church-goer who sued Beshear over a ban on mass gatherings, called for “dangerous liberty over peaceful slavery.”
Wesley Morgan, who’s running against Mitch McConnell for the U.S. Senate, took the opportunity to boost his campaign and promise to be kinder to the Second Amendment than the Senate majority leader. Rhoanda Palazzo, a Republican running to unseat Louisville Rep. John Yarmuth, also promised to uphold the Constitution if elected.
As the rally wound down, organizers led the remaining crowd to the governor’s mansion to attempt to hand deliver a request for Beshear to resign. Groups carried signs reading “Abort Beshear from office” and “My rights don’t end where your fear begins” to Beshear’s home and chanted, “Come out Andy” and “Resign Andy.”
No one came to the door. A few Kentucky State Troopers got out of their cars to observe but did not attempt to stop the crowd. It’s not clear if Beshear was at home at the time.
The crowd returned to the capitol, at which time an effigy of Beshear was hanged from a tree outside the Capitol while “God Bless the U.S.A.” played over the loud speaker.
A man with a Three Percenter band around his arm helped hang the effigy, though Kentucky 3Percenters Inc. State Secretary Patsy Kays Bush said she was against it and didn’t want it to hurt the group’s image. Wheatley, too, said he did not support the effigy.
“However,” Bush said, “we’re at the point where rallies and shouting and hollering is just not working anymore.” She did support marching to the mansion, though, she said.
“That man (Beshear) has overstepped his bounds in more ways than one,” she said. “Somebody needs to get ahold of him. And we’re just done.”
She said part of the problem is Beshear’s approach to executive orders and recommendations like mask wearing. She said she feels like he gives orders instead of advice, and by nature of being in the mansion and at the Capitol, is too disconnected from how badly others are suffering from his rules.
The effigy bore a sign that read, “sic semper tyrannis,” which means “thus always to tyrants.”
After hanging for a short time while people snapped photos, it was cut to the ground.
The effigy was swiftly condemned by leaders on both sides of the aisle.
Kentucky Secretary of State Michael Adams, a Republican, called the effigy “disgusting” on social media.
“I condemn it wholeheartedly,” he tweeted. “The words of John Wilkes Booth have no place in the Party of Lincoln.”
Second Amendment supporters ended a Memorial Day weekend rally with a march from the state Capitol to the Kentucky governor’s mansion. Louisville Courier Journal
Kentucky House Democratic Leader Joni Jenkins, House Democratic Caucus Chair Derrick Graham and House Democratic Whip Angie Hatton also issued a joint statement condemning the effigy.
“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,” the statement read. “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. We call on all elected officials to condemn these actions and pledge to work to eliminate dangerous hateful speech.”
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.”
Asked whether any investigations into the effigy were taking place, a Kentucky State Police spokesman told The Courier Journal that KSP “does not comment on the level of security provided to protect the governor, nor any inquiries that we receive regarding these efforts.”