Led by victims, tens of thousands march nationwide against Kavanaugh
Seth Wenig/AP

Led by victims of sexual aggression, tens of thousands of women and men marched and demonstrated nationwide on September 24 against GOP President Donald Trump’s nomination of federal appeals court judge Brett Kavanaugh, an accused sexual abuser, to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The protests from coast to coast came as the GOP majority on the Senate Judiciary Committee, along with Trump and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kent., apparently refused to budge from their prior stand of giving Kavanaugh’s first accuser, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, no more than a perfunctory “she-said he-said” hearing on September 27.

McConnell promised a right-wing group he would steamroll Kavanaugh through.

That’s even though a second accuser, Deborah Ramirez, stepped forward in The New Yorker to detail later sexual abuse of her by Kavanaugh while both were Yale University students. Kavanaugh exposed himself to her and tried other actions, and other students identified him at that party, by name.

Ford’s account, days ago in The Washington Post, detailed Kavanaugh’s sexual assault on her – including getting her drunk, ripping her clothes and forcing his hand over her mouth to prevent her from screaming – while both were at a teenagers’ party during their years in exclusive D.C. area private high schools.

“All of us deserve fair treatment, and respect and recognition,” a speaker from the National Center for Combatting Domestic Violence told almost 1,000 people gathered in front of the Supreme Court. “Survivors often do not come forward” to speak of the assaults “because of retribution” or other severe consequences.

One college grad wrote to the National Center for Transgender Equity that “I lived in terror the entire time I was on campus. My university did nothing” to “a powerful man” who threatened her, a speaker from the center said.

“So many victims are told ‘It’s your fault’ or they’re put on trial” when they come forward. “Now people with powerful stories are being steamrolled to put Brett Kavanaugh on the highest court in the land.”

Many of the protesters brought their stories to senators’ offices, both on Capitol Hill and in their home states. Several dozen were arrested after a peaceful protest blocked the D.C. office door of key swing vote Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine.

“In 1999, I was a junior and I was on the debate team,” one woman told aides to Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., according to CNN. “I was working in the debate office one day and I asked the coach to come over and look at something I had written.”

“He came over and leaned up behind me and stuck his hand down the back of my shirt. I jerked away and he pulled his hand out. And I never told anybody about it.”

“Sometimes it takes a woman a long time to be able to talk about something like that,” she said. “It doesn’t mean she’s lying when she does.”

“Listen for real,” she told Corker.

“I was able to tell my story,” Anna Marcia Archulla told the D.C. crowd outside the court. “I decided to do it because it is necessary when we think about justice.”

“You have to think about responsibility. That is the only way justice works,” she declared. “When someone is named to a lifetime appointment” to the court, she said of Kavanaugh that “he is not able to carry out justice” since “he does not take responsibility for the actions of one person – himself – ” against Ford and Ramirez.

Kavanaugh is angrily denying either incident ever happened.

The D.C march against Kavanaugh drew wide support from civil rights, women’s rights and other progressive organizations, including National Nurses United, Jobs With Justice, the Service Employees, the Teachers (AFT) and the Coalition of Labor Union Women. Staffers from AFT headquarters went to the D.C. protest.

“It is time for all senators to stand up and be counted. If Dr. Ford testifies she must receive the support Anita Hill was never afforded,” CLUW President Elise Bryant said, referring to the 1991 Judiciary Committee mistreatment of Hill when she presented sexual harassment allegations against then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas. “Senators already have enough information to reject this nominee. Do the right thing now,” said Bryant.

“Dr. Christine Blasey Ford has bravely come forward to tell her story of sexual assault at the hands of Brett Kavanaugh and CLUW believes her,” the organization said. “Survivors make these intensely personal decisions in the face of an incredibly hostile climate to speak up.  Sexual assault is unlawful, and this allegation is directly relevant to determining Kavanaugh’s character and fitness for a lifetime appointment to the highest court in the land.”

And in addition to Kavanaugh’s hostility to workers in his rulings, NNU Co-Presidents Jean Ross and Deborah Burger wrote senators concerning Ford’s allegations. “Any person who has committed sexual assault is unfit to serve on the Supreme Court of the United States,” they declared.

One pointed post, responding to calls to turn out against Kavanaugh, came from Robin Sudkamp:

“Less than 3 years ago Brock Turner was convicted of three charges of felony sexual assault, he served three months of jail time. I think we’re past allowing GOP Congress to feign ignorance to the reasons 15 year old girls don’t report when they’ve been assaulted. This is a tactic being utilized to promote more the same kind of injustice that every woman is tired of being forced to accept. We’re fucking tired. #BelieveSurvivors,” she said.


CONTRIBUTOR

Mark Gruenberg
Mark Gruenberg

Mark Gruenberg is head of the Washington, D.C., bureau of People's World. He is also the editor of Press Associates Inc. (PAI), a union news service in Washington, D.C. that he has headed since 1999. Previously, he worked as Washington correspondent for the Ottaway News Service, as Port Jervis bureau chief for the Middletown, NY Times Herald Record, and as a researcher and writer for Congressional Quarterly. Mark obtained his BA in public policy from the University of Chicago and worked as the University of Chicago correspondent for the Chicago Daily News.

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