Democratic candidate Charles Booker wears a noose in a campaign ad to highlight the country’s painful history of lynching and criticize Senator Rand Paul (R).

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Charles Booker, the Democratic nominee challenging Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), wears a noose in a new campaign ad in which he seeks to highlight the country’s painful history of lynching and Paul’s opposition to a 2020 bill to make it a federal hate crime.

“The pain of our past lingers to this day,” Booker says in the ad. “In Kentucky, as in many southern states, lynching was a tool of terror. It was used to kill the hopes of freedom.

The camera pans to reveal a noose around Booker’s neck.

“It was used to kill my ancestors,” he says. “Now, in a historic victory for our Commonwealth, I have become the first black Kentuckian to receive the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate.”

“My opponent? Booker continues, as images of Paul flash on the screen. “The person who single-handedly prevented an anti-lynching act from being federal law.”

The announcement did not mention that Paul supported an updated bill, known as the Emmett Till Antilynching Act, which passed the Senate in March and is now in effect. Paul single-handedly delayed the legislation in 2020, saying he feared it would be applied too broadly.

In March, Paul admitted to the Louisville Courier-Journal that “it was not a popular position to slow down this bill” in 2020 but that he still thought it was the right thing to do. Paul then co-sponsored the updated bill, which was introduced by Sens. Cory Booker (DN.J.) and Tim Scott (RS.C.).

“At the end of the day, I think the language of compromise will hopefully prevent us from incarcerating someone for some kind of crime that isn’t lynching,” Paul told the newspaper. “We just wanted to make sure the punishment was proportionate to the crime, and I guess it’s just good news that it finally worked.”

In a statement Wednesday, Jake Cox, Paul’s deputy campaign manager, suggested Booker’s announcement was “a desperate misrepresentation of the facts.”

“Dr. Paul has worked diligently with Senators Booker and Scott to strengthen the language of this legislation and is one of the co-sponsors of the bill which now ensures that federal law will define lynching as the absolutely heinous crime it is,” Cox said.

President Biden signed into law the Emmett Till Antilynching Act in March, noting that it had taken more than a century of failed efforts to pass a federal law expressly banning lynching.

“For a long time, lynching was pure terror to enforce the lie that not everyone, not everyone belongs in America, not everyone is created equal,” Biden said at the time. a ceremony at the Rose Garden after the bill was signed. “Innocent men, women and children hung by ropes from trees, bodies burned, drowned and castrated. Their crimes? Trying to vote, trying to go to school, trying to own a business or preach the gospel. False charges of murder, arson and robbery. Just be black.

The new law changes the US code to designate lynching as a hate crime punishable by up to 30 years in prison. Over 4,000 people, mostly African Americans, were lynched in the United States from 1882 to 1968 in all but a handful of states. Ninety-nine percent of the perpetrators have escaped state or local sanctions.

Booker and Paul will face each other in the general election in November. Paul faced four challengers in the May 17 Republican primary, but won hands down. Booker, a former Kentucky state representative and Louisville native, failed in his bid to be the 2020 Democratic Senate nominee but also easily won his primary race last month.

Booker’s new ad also calls out Paul for once comparing expanded health care to slavery and for his past criticism of the Civil Rights Act.

Felicia Sonmez and Eugene Scott contributed to this report.

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