Protesters Hang Effigy of Kentucky Governor From a Tree Over Coronavirus Restrictions

A group of protesters in Kentucky hung an effigy of Gov. Andy Beshear from a tree outside the state Capitol Sunday. Drawing approximately 100 people and initially beginning as a Second Amendment rally, the demonstration soon morphed into a protest against coronavirus public health measures that made its way to the governor’s mansion, according to the Louisville Courier Journal.

As the group neared the governor’s mansion, chants of "Come out Andy" and "Resign Andy" rang out, several protesters carrying signs reading "Abort Beshear from office" and "My rights don't end where your fear begins." According to local freelance journalist Gerry Seavo James, near the end of the protest, an organizer told him and several other reporters that he had something for them to see. James said “they got to their truck and they pull out this plastic bag. It’s Governor Beshear.”

In video obtained by NBC News, a man in military-style fatigues can be seen tying an effigy with a picture of Beshear's face attached to it and a noose around its neck to a tree as "God Bless the U.S.A." played over the loudspeaker. A sign attached to the doll’s face read, "Sic semper tyrannis," or "thus always to tryants."

It is not known if Beshear was home at the time of the protest, as nobody came to the door. He has not yet commented on the incident. The Courier Journal reports that the effigy was removed from the tree shortly after people captured photographs of it. The effigy has since been condemned by political leaders on both sides of the aisle, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who said that while he is "a strong defender of the First Amendment" and believes "Americans have the right to peacefully protest… today's action toward Governor Beshear is unacceptable. There is no place for hate in Kentucky."

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On social media, Kentucky Secretary of State Michael Adams, also a Republican, wrote that he condemns "it wholeheartedly," calling it "disgusting." Meanwhile, Kentucky House Democratic Leader Joni Jenkins, House Democratic Caucus Chair Derrick Graham and House Democratic Whip Angie Hatton, in a joint statement, called the effigy "beyond reprehensible" and an "act that reeks of hate and intimidation."

Although several reports have claimed that the protest was organized by the group Take Back Kentucky, the group has denied the claim, stating that they had instead shared the information for the rally as they commonly do. In a statement, the group added that "we would not have shared it if we had known of the plan that certain individuals had to finish the rally in this manner."