Survivors of rape and sexual assault took to a stage in front of the Supreme Court on Thursday to ask their US senators: “Do you believe survivors?”
“My name is Teresa, and I’m a proud mom,” said one woman from Arizona. “Senator (Jeff) Flake: Do you believe that survivors matter? Believe me. And believe us.”
She was just one of many women, survivors and their allies who descended on Washington, DC, Thursday to make their voices heard and protest Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the nation’s highest court.
Protesters met at the Barrett Prettyman Federal Courthouse before marching to the Supreme Court, where they held a rally offering words of support to each other and victims of sexual violence.
Chants of “Say it loud, say it clear, Kavanaugh’s not welcome here!” and “Whose court? Our court!” rose from the crowd as demonstrators linked arms and carried signs. Many signs read “KavaNOPE” and said the judge was “unfit to serve.”
Other signs and banners called for support for survivors of sexual violence.
“Kavanaugh is uniquely unfit to serve on our nation’s court,” protester Samantha Dercher told CNN Thursday.
She carried a sign depicting the tense moment late last week when Republican Sen. Jeff Flake was confronted by a survivor of sexual assault prior to calling for an additional FBI investigation into sexual assault allegations against Kavanaugh.
“A man who has been credibly accused of sexual assault has no place making decisions on women’s bodies for generations to come,” Dercher said.
According to a release from the Women’s March and the Center for Popular Democracy, thousands of women and their allies were expected to protest in Washington as US senators and key staff review the FBI’s supplemental report on Kavanaugh and allegations of sexual misconduct made against him.
Later in the afternoon, on the East Steps of the Capitol, survivors of sexual violence will participate in a “speakout,” organizers said.
“Sexual assault and violence against women are and should be disqualifying for a position on the Supreme Court,” said Women’s March Co-Chair Tamika Mallory in the statement. “We won’t be silent while the GOP works to put an abuser on the Supreme Court.”
Thursday’s rallies come after anti-Kavanaugh protests were held around the country on Wednesday. Anna Galland, executive director of MoveOn.org Civic Action, shared images on Twitter of street protests in Anchorage, Alaska; Charleston, West Virginia; and other cities.
Protesters also gathered in the shadow of the Capitol and the Supreme Court last week as Kavanaugh’s accuser, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, and the judge himself addressed the Senate Judiciary Committee in a high-stakes hearing.
Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has set in motion a process designed to lead to a procedural vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination Friday that would possibly lead to a final vote as early as the following day.
By the time protests got underway it was clear that GOP senators felt confident Kavanaugh’s confirmation was all but guaranteed.
But protesters told CNN’s Joe Johns that organizers had indicated the protests would serve to at least call attention to the issues at play, even if they wouldn’t ultimately block Kavanaugh from becoming a Supreme Court justice.
Activists like Elizabeth Kennedy — who hoped to put pressure on a small group of key senators who remain undecided on Kavanaugh’s nomination — boarded buses in New York before sunrise Thursday morning to make the journey to Washington.
When asked about President Donald Trump’s comments earlier this week that this is a “very scary time for young men in America,” Kennedy suggested survivors needed to have support and should be believed.
“I think it’s deeply problematic and concerning,” Kennedy told CNN’s Athena Jones, “because it’s sending a message that it’s not just about believing survivors, it’s about the fact that we don’t care about their experiences … It’s important to remind us that we need to value those voices.”