FRANKFORT, Ky. (KT) - “I owe it to the people of Kentucky not to bow to terror, but to continue to do what is right, for their families and for mine,” Gov. Andy Beshear said, referring to a group of protesters who hung him in effigy on the Capitol grounds Sunday.
The governor resumed his daily update on the coronavirus on Tuesday, following a three-day break for the Memorial Day weekend, and spoke about the incident, which grew out of a Second Amendment rally, where protesters crossed chained-off areas of the Governor’s Mansion and went onto the front porch.
“While I knew kids, from time to time, would be mean to them, just because of who their dad was I did not consider that they may be bullied or heckled by grown adults,” he said of his children who are 9 and 10 years old. “Then, Sunday happened.”
He described what took place on the day before Memorial Day.
“At the demonstration, a right-wing militia group called the 3 Percenters, left the front of the Capitol, and walked through and across all the barriers at the Governor’s Mansion,” he said. “They walked up and stood on the front porch and there, just a windowpane away from where my kids play, the mob chanted and heckled. Thankfully, my kids weren’t there that day.”
Beshear says a couple hundred yards from the Mansion, they hung him in effigy.
“It included the saying yelled by Lincoln’s assassin. Think about it. A celebration of assassination on our Capitol grounds. So, let’s start calling it what it was, and what it is, actions aimed at creating fear and terror. Crossing over barriers, standing on the other side of the glass from where I raise my kids, and hanging me in effigy? That’s an action intended to use fear to get their way.”
The governor aimed the blame on a group known as the 3 Percenters and some elected state officials, whom he declined to name, who attended previous rallies at the Capitol in protest of Beshear.
“They had been embraced and emboldened by elected leaders, who rallied with them weeks before. Standing in front of a radical militia group, these elected officials claim that people including me are not Christian, and even told them that people wanted babies to be murdered. What do you think was going to happen?” he said.
“After throwing out those claims to this kind of group, shouldn’t they have known what is going to happen? You cannot fan the flames and then condemn the fire. They are in part responsible for what did happen, and all elected officials can no longer actively seek the support and cater to these groups like we have seen.
“Let us also not ignore that the hanging was intended to send a message to others. One of intolerance, and one of hate. I will not be afraid, I will not be bullied, and I will not back down. Not to them, and not to anybody else.”
As for the pandemic, Beshear said the daily new case totals for Sunday, Monday and Tuesday were 141, 122 and 117 respectively. He noted the low numbers may be attributed to labs that were not open during the holiday weekend. The pandemic total is now 8,951.
Over the same three days, there were three deaths - one each in Adair, Allen, and Jefferson counties, making the state’s total 394.
Gov. Beshear is holding his daily press briefing this week in the Kentucky Supreme Court chamber.