FRANKFORT, Ky. — Only days after a deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear condemned a "patriot rally" on Saturday outside the commonwealth's statehouse.
A photo advertising the event, posted in the "United Kentucky" Facebook group on Jan. 2, said it would be "the biggest patriot rally the state of Kentucky has ever seen."
It turned out to be about 100 protesters, many armed, who showed up around noon to stand outside the Kentucky Capitol while both chambers of the General Assembly were in session.
One armed protester who carried zip ties visibly attached to his backpack told a photographer he brought them “just in case.”
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“Three days after domestic terrorists attacked our U.S. Capitol, there was a militia rally in Frankfort,” Beshear said on Twitter. “They brought zip ties. We will not be intimidated. We will not be bullied. America is counting on the real patriots. Those who condemn hate and terror when they see it.”
But Johnny Rice, the first of many speakers at Saturday's rally, said the group was there for peace, though they are “sick and tired” of what is happening in their country. The event was peaceful, too, with no reported acts of violence or attempts by participants to enter the statehouse.
Others in the succession of speakers took aim at President Donald Trump's election loss to Joe Biden, warning against what they see as an incoming administration set on stripping away freedoms.
Kentucky Sens. Rand Paul and Mitch McConnell also drew sharp criticism, as did Beshear, who was roundly criticized for his executive orders designed to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
"The bottom line is: He has destroyed us," said Patricia Oliver, who was collecting donations to help the poor and hungry. "From Day One with his mandates, he has failed everybody."
Kentucky is in the grips of a spike in COVID-19 cases, with record-breaking daily totals this week. The state has seen more than 2,800 deaths from the virus.
The rally crowd had mostly dissipated within three hours, with about two dozen protesters finishing with a march around the Capitol shortly after 2 p.m.
Contributing: Ben Tobin, Courier Journal
Jonathan Bullington is an investigative reporter. Reach him at: 502-582-4241; JBullington@courierjournal.com; Twitter: @jrbullington.
This article originally appeared on Louisville Courier Journal: Kentucky 'patriot rally' brings protesters, many armed, to Capitol