Black Democratic Senate candidate wears noose in campaign video

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Kentucky Democratic Senate candidate Charles Booker released a campaign video Wednesday which features him wearing a noose, in an attempt to highlight Senator Rand Paul's opposition to a 2020 bill that would have made lynching a federal hate crime.

The video, which starts with a graphic warning, opens with a shot of a noose hanging from a tree.

"The pain of our past persists to this day," Booker, who is Black, says in the opening lines. "In Kentucky, like many states throughout the South, lynching was a tool for terror. It was used to kill hopes for freedom."

Here's Booker's campaign video.

"It was used to kill my ancestors," Booker says, as he appears on camera wearing a noose around his neck. "Now, in an historic victory for our commonwealth, I have become the first Black Kentuckian to receive the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate."

"My opponent?" Booker continues, turning his focus to Paul. "The very person who compared expanded health care to slavery. The person who said he would have opposed The Civil Rights Act. The person who single-handedly blocked an anti-lynching act from being federal law."

In 2020, Paul held up a bill that would have made lynching a federal crime, saying he wanted to see more discussion to "make the language the best that we can get it." He said in a an op-ed in The Louisville Courier Journal that he was concerned that the language in the bill might "unintentionally mete out 10-year sentences for minor altercations."

Earlier this year, Paul cosponsored a new version of the legislation, which passed the Senate by unanimous consent.

"It wasn't a popular stand to slow this bill down, but I wanted to do it because, you know, I thought it was the right thing to do," Paul told The Louisville Courier Journal in an interview in February. "And in the end, I think the compromise language will hopefully keep us from incarcerating somebody for some kind of crime that's not lynching."

President Biden signed the Emmett Till Antilynching Act in March. It was named after Emmett Till, the 14-year-old who was beaten and killed in Mississippi in 1955.

"Dr. Paul worked diligently with Senators (Cory) Booker and (Tim) Scott to strengthen the language of this legislation and is a cosponsor of the bill that now ensures that federal law will define lynching as the absolutely heinous crime that it is. Any attempt to state otherwise is a desperate misrepresentation of the facts," Paul's deputy campaign manager Jake Cox said in a statement.

In a 2010 interview with The Louisville Courier Journal, Paul said he liked that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 "ended discrimination in all public domains and I'm all in favor of that," but did not like that it told private business owners what to do.

"I abhor racism. I think it's a bad business decision to ever exclude anybody from your restaurant, but at the same time I do believe in private ownership," Paul said. "But I think there should be absolutely no discrimination in anything that gets any public funding, and that's most of what the Civil Rights Act was about, to my mind."

In 2013, Paul said in a speech at Howard University, "I've never been against the Civil Rights Act, ever."

Booker's ad also criticizes Paul for remarks he made in 2011, when he compared "the right to healthcare" to slavery.

"With regard to the idea whether or not you have a right to health care you have to realize what that implies. I am a physician. You have a right to come to my house and conscript me. It means you believe in slavery. You are going to enslave not only me but the janitor at my hospital, the person who cleans my office, the assistants, the nurses. … You are basically saying you believe in slavery," Paul said, according to Politico.

"Do we move forward together? Or do we let politicians like Rand Paul forever hold us back and drive us apart?" Booker asks, before removing the noose at the end of the video. "In November, we will choose healing."

Booker and Paul will face off in the November general election. The Cook Political Report rates the race as "solid Republican."

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