(CNN) — A group of protesters holding a rally outside of Gov. Andy Beshear’s mansion at the state Capitol in Frankfort, Kentucky, on Sunday hung an effigy of the governor on a tree outside.
The protest was advertised on Facebook as a Patriot Day Rally to exercise Second Amendment rights.
As the rally was winding down, someone drove up in a pick up truck and pulled the effigy of Beshear out of a bag and hung it on a tree, Gerry Seavo James told CNN.
The effigy had a note around its neck with the Latin phrase “sic semper tyrannis,” which roughly translates to “thus always to tyrants.” Generally attributed to Brutus, the phrase was shouted by the assassin John Wilkes Booth when he shot President Abraham Lincoln and is also the state motto of Virginia.
James, a freelance journalist, has been attending and documenting Second Amendment rallies over the past month, he said.
“It’s a very chilling image to see in modern America. And especially as an African American man,” James explained.
After the effigy was hung from a tree another man came up and cut it down, James said.
“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,” James said.
Democrats and Republicans condemned the actions toward the Democratic governor.
“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,” Crystal Staley, communications director for Beshear, said in an email to CNN Sunday night. “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.”
Sen. Mitch McConnell and the state Republican Party also reacted to the news on Twitter Sunday night, denouncing the actions of those involved.
In a tweet, McConnell said, “As a strong defender of the First Amendment, I believe Americans have the right to peacefully protest. However, today’s action toward Governor Beshear is unacceptable. There is no place for hate in Kentucky.”
The Republican Party of Kentucky tweeted about the incident. “What occurred at today’s rally was unacceptable and has no place in Kentucky’s political discourse. The Republican Party of Kentucky strongly condemns the violent imagery against the Governor in today’s protest.”