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'I Will Not Back Down.' Kentucky Governor Calls Out Protesters, Sympathetic Officials

AP Photo/Bryan Woolston

Gov. Andy Beshear is vowing not to "bow to terror" following weekend protests at the Capitol, which saw armed demonstrators chant outside his residence.

"I will not be afraid, I will not be bullied, and I will not back down, not to them and not to anybody else," the Democrat told reporters Tuesday.

In perhaps the most sobering press conference he's held to date, Beshear addressed pro-Second Amendment demonstrators, whom he identified as members of the "right-wing militia group The Three Percenters."

Sunday, protesters hoisted an effigy of Beshear from a tree, with the Latin phrase "sic semper tyrannis" or "thus always to tyrants" attached to the back, and then led chants outside windows of the Governor's Mansion. The governor said the group had been offered a drive-up and drive-thru permit and other concessions, but "the organizers and the attorney general disagreed."

The actions drew swift bipartisan condemnation online, including from Republican Attorney General Daniel Cameron, who called the effigy "sickening."

Without naming names, Beshear called out elected officials whom he said bear some responsibility for courting "radical" groups at anti-shutdown events.

"(The protesters) didn't get there alone. They had been embraced and emboldened by elected leaders that rallied with them weeks before," the Democrat said, taking speakers to task for charged rhetoric about his faith and position on abortion. "Shouldn't they have known was what going to happen? You cannot fan the flames and then condemn the fire."

While he expressed no plans to move from the Governor's Mansion, Beshear said his team will be reviewing security protocols and future demonstrators who attempt similar actions can expect a "different response."

The message came amid news of a mass evacuation at a Louisville nursing home, dwindling numbers of sign-ups for testing, and renewed pleas by the state public health commissioner, Dr. Steven Stack, for residents not to disregard the precautions that helped slow COVID cases in Kentucky. After showing a brief video of patrons packed inside a Kentucky bar, the commissioner warned of the consequences of complacency, adding if residents ease up on safety measure now, "we're all going to pay a price."

Results from the previous three days showed the beginnings of a decline in new cases in the commonwealth, though it's a trend the governor cautioned is "fragile." In all, the state recorded 387 additional cases and three new deaths.

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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