Ky. Senate Candidate Wears Noose in Campaign Ad to Call Out Opponent Rand Paul for Blocking Anti-Lynching Bill

Democrat Charles Booker's opponent in the Senate race — incumbent Rand Paul — held up a bi-partisan anti-lynching measure last year before eventually getting behind a new version of the bill

Charles Booker
Charles Booker. Photo: Timothy D Easley/AP/Shutterstock

Kentucky Democratic Senate candidate Charles Booker is drawing attention to his rival's vote against a 2020 bill that would have made lynching a federal hate crime — by wearing a noose in a new campaign video.

Booker, 38, begins his latest ad with a content warning. Following the warning, footage of a noose hanging from a tree — and one in front of the U.S. Capitol building — can be seen while Booker, who is Black, speaks in a voiceover.

"The pain of our past persists to this day," he says. "In Kentucky, like many states throughout the south, lynching was a tool of terror."

After Booker goes on to describe the history of lynching in America, the footage then shifts to show the candidate with the noose around his own neck.

"It was used to kill my ancestors," Booker says, going on to note that he made history when he secured the Democratic nomination for Senate — the first Black person to do so in the state of Kentucky.

As Booker notes, his opponent in the Senate race — incumbent Rand Paul, a Republican — held up a popular piece of bi-partisan anti-lynching legislation in the Senate last year. At the time, Paul said he wanted the bill to be "stronger," and argued that it conflated "someone who has an altercation, where they had minor bruises, with lynching."

rand paul
Sen. Rand Paul. Greg Nash-Pool/Getty Images

"The choice couldn't be clearer," Booker says in the ad. "Do we move forward together? Or do we let politicians like Rand Paul forever hold us back and drive us apart?"

In a tweet, Booker noted that Paul's vote against the anti-lynching legislation in 2020 coincided with the funeral of George Floyd.

"Let us not forget that on the day of George Floyd's funeral, a day of mourning, a day where the nation marched for equality, Rand Paul blocked a bill that would have made lynching a federal hate crime," Booker tweeted. "We won't forget this. Not now, and not in November.

In March, Paul announced that he supported an updated version of the measure and has signed on as a co-sponsor of the new version of the bill.

The Emmett Till Antilynching Act of 2022 would designate lynching as a federal hate crime and is so-named for murdered African-American teenager Emmett Till, a 14-year-old whose body was found mutilated in Tallahatchie County, Mississippi, in 1955.

Till's brutal beating death, the acquittal of his professed killers by an all-white jury and the photos of his dead body sparked outrage outside the state — and became a catalyst for the national civil rights movement.

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