Protesters assembled in Washington, D.C., and chanted slogans against confirming Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanagh as Democrats and Republicans faced off in advance of a Senate confirmation vote. (Oct. 4)
WASHINGTON â€“ As she stood atÂ the Supreme Court on Thursday, Diane Russell had a message forÂ GOPÂ Sen. Susan Collins, whose vote could determine nominee Brett Kavanaughâ€™s fate.Â
â€œIf she turns on women, Maine women will turn on her,â€ saidÂ Russell, aÂ former Maine lawmaker.
Russell was one of about 20 protesters from Maine who traveled to the nation’s capital to joinÂ hundreds of other protesters for aÂ rally that could be aÂ last gasp push against Kavanaugh’s proposed ascension to the nation’s highest court. The group repeatedly chanted: â€œSusan Collins, we are your voters, Susan Collins, we are your voters!â€Â
The protesters, who marched from the federal courthouse to the Supreme Court to the Senate, wereÂ hoping to sway a handful of lawmakersÂ considered swing votes in determining the fate of Kavanaugh.
After their demonstration at the Supreme Court, protesters swarmed the Hart Senate Office Building atrium ahead of a â€œdirect actionâ€ â€”Â an act of nonviolent resistance where protesters anticipate being arrested.
As they began sitting on the floor of the atrium, police quickly ringed the group, issuing warnings before leading individual protesters away in plastic handcuffs. It took several minutes for police to lead away the protesters, who numbered well over a hundred.Â
Also at the Hart Building, a group thatÂ traveled from Alaska hoping to talk to GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski had strong words for her.Â
â€œI think it will be such an egregious betrayal that none of us here will vote for her,â€ Erica Kahill said, imagining what would happen if Murkowski votes yes on Kavanaugh’s nomination. â€œI feel like she is normally an advocate for women …This would change my mind.â€
A California professor, Christine Blasey Ford, hasÂ accused the judge of sexually assaulting her at a high school party 36 years ago, a claim Kavanaugh denies. The drama has captivated â€“ and polarized â€“ the nation since both Ford and Kavanaugh testified a week ago before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
The Senate braced for a crucial initial vote Friday on Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced the FBI would deliver to Senators its report on claims that Kavanaugh sexually abused women. (Oct. 4)
An initial vote of the full Senate on the nomination is scheduled for Friday, and a final vote could come over the weekend.Â Lawmakers received the FBI report on allegations of sexual assault against the federal judge Thursday. Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley said it reflects “no hint of misconduct.”Â
Protesters at the rally in D.C., one of several across the nationÂ Thursday,Â wereÂ diverse: people of all races and ages, from grandmothers to children in strollers. The majorityÂ were women, but there were plenty of men. Many chanted â€œWe believe survivors!â€ and â€œWhose court? Our court!â€ as one man pounded a drum in rhythm with the chants.
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Barbara Smith got her start in protesting during the Vietnam War. On Thursday she was back at it, among the first to arrive at theÂ rally in D.C.
â€œItâ€™s unreal that those of us of a certain generation have to do this again,â€ said Smith, 67, of Richmond, Virginia, as she waved a sign that included photos of her grandchildren. “My job as a grandmother is to do what I can to make sure that theyâ€™re going to be safe and that theyâ€™ll never have to say â€˜Me Too.'”
Smith, who spent 40 years as a therapistÂ working with trauma victims, said she wasnâ€™t surprised when she heard President Donald Trump mocking Ford. â€œVictim shaming has been going on for a very long time,â€ she said.
Sen Elizabeth Warren, a Democrat from Massachusetts and hero of the progressive left, drew a roar from the crowd when she took the microphone on a hot sunny day in the nation’s capital.
â€œI watched that hearing last Thursday and I believe Dr. Ford,â€ Warren said. â€œThis is about power. I watched 11 men, powerful men, who tried to help another powerful man make it to an even more powerful position. IÂ am angry on behalf of women who have been told to shut up and sit down one time too many.â€
Protester Jolie Timm, 70, echoed Warren’s refrain. Timm said the hardest part of watching the hearing was seeing theÂ women who supportÂ Kavanaugh, including his wife, Ashley.Â
â€œI looked at the people behind him and it made me cry,â€ said Timm, 70, of Gold Beach, Oregon. â€œItâ€™s so sad that people that I relate to can believe in something and someone that is so hurtful.â€
Opponents of Kavanaugh remained energized.Â Planned Parenthood said its youthÂ groups on at least 18 college campuses in at least 12 states were mobilizing resistance events.
â€œYoung people are taking action across the country because they stand with survivors of sexual assault,” spokesman Nick Savelli said. “And they know Brett Kavanaugh is in a position to determine the health and constitutional rights of generations to come.”
A group called International Women’s Strike is urging people across Portland, Ore., to walk out at 4 p.m.Â In Washington, protesters geared up for a day of action.
Smith and Timm were among hundreds gathering at theÂ Â E.Â Barrett Prettyman Courthouse in Washington, D.C., where Kavanaugh currently sits as a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
“Weâ€™re marching from Kavanaughâ€™s current courthouse to the one he hopes to ascend to,” the Women’s March tweeted. “Weâ€™ll do everything we can to make sure he doesnâ€™t get there.”
Angela Trzepkowski, 55, of Middleton, Delaware, was among the first to arriveÂ
â€œI donâ€™t believe heâ€™s told the truth,â€ Trzepkowski said. â€œI believe itâ€™s the good old boy network covering for each other and watching each otherâ€™s backs. And Iâ€™m ashamed that our country has to go through this because of poor vetting and womenâ€™s fear to speak out when assault has happened.â€
Organized by groups such asÂ the Women’s March, Demand Justice and the American Civil Liberties Union, the protest is the latest in a string of demonstrations against Kavanaugh.Â Last Thursday and Friday, more than a hundred protesters were arrested in and around the Capitol as the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing and markup session took place.Â
Dave Christensen, 60, of Gaithersburg, Maryland, felt compelled to join the effort.
â€œGrowing up a man, you donâ€™t see the other side,â€ he said. â€œYou donâ€™t see that itâ€™s unsafe to walk out by yourself after dark.Â You donâ€™t see how many people raise their hand when they ask if youâ€™ve been sexually assaulted. It’s so sad.”
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