Around 1,000 protesters gathered at the State Capitol on a bright sunny Saturday to get their message across that it’s time for Kentucky to “get back to work.”
The protesters included Republican lawmakers – four representatives and one state senator – who were critical of how Gov. Andy Beshear’s response to the coronavirus pandemic is impacting the state. They said he was hurting workers and businesses by not allowing them to immediately reopen the economy.
Beshear wasn’t in Frankfort on Saturday to have his usual coronavirus briefing that he has held every day since March 6. He said the briefings would resume on Sunday at 5 p.m.
The governor has taken steps to begin reopening the economy gradually. He introduced the first phase of his plan this week which calls for some businesses to resume on May 11. Churches can have in-person services, with restrictions, beginning May 20, he said.
The protesters said Besher was stepping on the rights of the U.S. Constitution with how he has handled it all. They said the coronavirus outbreak in Kentucky has not been bad enough to continue the extended closures of local businesses and public gathering places.
Some of the demonstrators who gathered at the Freedom Rally carried American and Confederate flags and a bluegrass band was on the scene to entertain as the large crowd began to gather.
Rep. Stan Lee, R-Fayette, talked about an editorial cartoon in a Kentucky newspaper that depicted people attending the rally as uneducated, selfish church-goers for wanting to worship God. “To that cartoonist, I say this: God loves you and He wants you to come to know Jesus and I do, too.”
“The Constitution was not written to restrict or restrain the people,” Lee said. “The Constitution was written to constrain the actions, and now the overreach, of the government.” Loud cheers ensued. after he made that statement.
“We see what is going on all around us in our country. We the people do not get our rights, freedoms and liberty from the government. We get them from God almighty. Which is why it is so disturbing we have a governor who will shut down the state to save lives and then veto the born alive bill. The hypocrisy is stunning. This is the same governor who made abortion clinic essential, but not churches.
“As of today, there have been approximately 240 deaths related to the COVID-19 virus in this state. But just since March 1 of this year, deaths by abortion are over 746.”
Lee eluded that EMW (abortion clinic) in Louisville is open because they are donors to Beshear’s campaign.
Lee talked about the shutdown of government based on experts with faulty predictions. “They have been wrong about everything. They have been wrong about the number of infections. They have been wrong about number of hospitalizations. They have been wrong about the number of ICU rooms. There models have been wrong from day one,” he said.
“We have hospitals all across this state fixing to go out of business and file bankruptcy.”
“And perhaps what is most distressing is we have allowed a police state to be created. Complete with a snitch line for neighbors to rat out other neighbors. All the while we have a governor taking down license plates of church-goers while at the same time letting prisoners go. Enough is enough. Wake up Kentucky!”
He told citizens to keep pushing back and to fear God, not the government.
Rhonda Hunter, of Louisville, said “I’m out here to get Kentucky back to work. It’s time for Kentucky to get back to work.”
Rep. Savannah Maddox thanked people for showing up and letting government know “we are not satisfied.”
“It matters that you are here, because whose house is it?” said Maddox gesturing behind her at the towering dome of the Capitol. A resounding “ours” echoed among the crowd. “Is this the governor’s house? Is it the legislature’s house? This is your house.”
“(The governor) may not be here in this moment, but he’s going to hear what you have to say.”
Maddox said it wasn’t until the first protest on April 15 that the next day the governor, for the first time, talked about transition plan to get Kentucky back to work.
“This is working,” she said.