Effigy of Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear Hung from Tree During Second Amendment Rally in Frankfort

The effigy, hung during a rally on Sunday, bore the phrase "Sic semper tyrannis" — Latin for "Thus always to tyrants" and what John Wilkes Booth shouted after assassinating President Lincoln

May 25, 2020 at 4:08 pm

During a Second Amendment rally held on Sunday, May 24 in Frankfort, Kentucky — described as a Patriot Day Rally on Facebook — Gov. Andy Beshear was hung in effigy from a tree. 

The rally, described as an event "to educate and inspire everyone today to be more like the original American Patriots who would not stand for their God given right to protect themselves and their loved ones to be taken away by tyrants!," was held at the Kentucky State Capitol. And according to reporting by CNN and others, the effigy of Beshear "had a note around its neck with the Latin phrase 'sic semper tyrannis,' which roughly translates to 'thus always to tyrants.'"

It's the phrase John Wilkes Booth reportedly shouted after he assassinated President Abraham Lincoln and it's been commonly used, essentially, to infer that leaders who have overstepped their bounds will get what's coming to them...being death. Some say Brutus called it out during the assassination of Julius Caesar, others disagree, but that seems to be the origin of the phrase. It's also on the state seal of Virginia, apparently. 

Reports say the effigy was cut down shortly after it was hung.

"There's a gentleman that came up. He was pretty upset about it, and he cut it down. And he was like this has no place at this rally. We're trying to be peaceful," Gerry Seavo James, identified as a freelance journalist, told CNN.

Both Republicans and Democrats agreed that the lynching of a stuffed figure with the face of the governor taped to it went beyond the First Amendment and veered into a threatening act. 

Senator Mitch McConnell's press office Tweeted:

And Kentucky House Republicans issued a statement saying, "There is no place in a civil society for it, nor is there any good to be accomplished from it. This weekend we honor those who died defending our right to speak freely. Today's actions are an insult to their sacrifice and the kind of incendiary action that can only cause harm."

Kentucky House Democrats called it an "act that reeks of hate and intimidation."

They've also called for the resignation of Rep. Savannah Maddox , a Republican, who was seen in photos with the man accused of hanging the effigy, 

Gov. Beshear's communications director Crystal Staley said to CNN in an emailed 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."

Support local journalism in these crazy days. Our small but mighty team is working tirelessly to bring you up to the minute news on how Coronavirus is affecting Cincinnati and surrounding areas. Please consider making a one time or monthly donation to help support our staff. Every little bit helps.

Other ways to support CityBeat: subscribe to our newsletters, advertise with us, or follow us on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter.