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Many Rally Organizers 'Don't Believe This Thing Is Real,' Kentucky Governor Says

Karyn Czar

Gov. Andy Beshear is responding to the latest court challenge directed at his response to the COVID-19 pandemic — coming from a group of Capitol protesters who argue the governor is violating their free speech rights.

Demonstrators who gathered outside the Capitol earlier this month in defiance of governor's safety orders argue in a federal court filing that Beshear is overstepping his constitutional authority, and they fear prosecution if they hold their next planned rally.

Tuesday, the governor said this about the four men lodging the legal complaint.

"The people who are bringing this lawsuit participated in a rally where the speaker said, ‘Take off your mask. You don't need to socially distance,’ and put people at risk," Beshear said. "I want people to be able to speak out. I want them to be able to disagree with me. I want them to be able to protest, but I want them to do it safely, that's all."

Although demonstrators did not face any repercussions, the governor said, the plaintiffs want a federal judge to permanently do away with new state guidelines shifting the protest to an adjacent parking area.

At his daily briefing, Beshear also warned against spreading misinformation.

"So many people who are leading these rallies don't believe this thing is real," he added.

The lawsuit is one of several cropping up against the governor's orders in recent weeks, even as the state moves to slowly reopen businesses and prepare for larger gatherings of people. The events echo themes seen in similar rallies across the country, and have included messages ranging from anti-vaccination rallying cries to Confederate flags.

Addressing racially charged symbols at the rallies, Beshear said, "I guess you can do that. It's your right of free speech, but it's really wrong and it sends a message of hate to too many people that are out there. I don't think it's right to be showing white supremacy signs here on the Capitol grounds .. I believe in a Kentucky that includes everyone and respects everyone."

Josh James fell in love with college radio at Western Kentucky University's student station, New Rock 92 (now Revolution 91.7). After working as a DJ and program director, he knew he wanted to come home to Lexington and try his hand in public radio.
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