Protests against Kavanaugh Continue in the Wake of Sexual Assault Allegations

Capitol Police arrested fifty-six people yesterday on Capitol Hill during a protest against Supreme Court Nominee and alleged abuser, Brett Kavanaugh.

Hundreds of protesters gathered in the Dirksen and Hart Senate Office Buildings chanting “We believe Anita Hill” and “We believe Christine Ford.” Professor Christine Blasey Ford came forward earlier this week, after her request for privacy and confidentiality were dishonored, with allegations that Kavanaugh had sexually assaulted her as a teenager.

Protesters, organized by the Women’s March and the Center for Popular Democracy Action, occupied the office of Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) demanding that he postpone a hearing on the new allegations against Kavanaugh until an impartial FBI investigation takes place. Groups of people also protested at the offices of Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), Bob Corker (R-TN), and Jeff Flake (R-AZ). Protesters wore buttons proclaiming, “I believe Dr. Christine Blasey Ford,” and some told personal stories of sexual violence.

Since coming forward, Dr. Blasey Ford has expressed, through her attorneys, a desire to have the FBI investigate her allegations against Kavanaugh. Neither the White House—which routinely engages the FBI to complete background investigations on all of its nominees—nor Chairman Grassley has honored that request. Several groups, including leading anti-violence organizations, have denounced that decision.

“For years, numerous organizations and scholars have developed best practices to conduct trauma-informed investigations that are sensitive to the survivor, fair and thorough. It is shocking for the Senate majority to ignore decades of progress and treat these allegations with even less regard than Anita Hill received, which was also inadequate and unfair,” said Feminist Majority Foundation President Eleanor Smeal, appearing at a press conference yesterday with women’s rights advocates and experts on sexual assault and gender-based violence. After Anita Hill made allegations against now-Justice Clarence Thomas in 1991, the White House ordered an FBI investigation into the matter before Professor Hill appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

“They say there is no time,” continued Smeal. “But there is plenty of time when we’re talking about a lifetime appointment to this nation’s highest court and ensuring that our judicial leaders hold themselves to the gold standard when it comes to violence against women.”

President Trump, himself accused of sexual harassment and assault by numerous women, tweeted in defense of Judge Kavanaugh this morning, calling him “a fine man, with an impeccable reputation.” Trump also appeared to accused “radical left wing politicians” of not wanting the truth, despite numerous calls for an FBI investigation, tweeting “they just want to destroy and delay. Facts don’t matter.” As of August 1, 2018, the Washington Post reported that President Trump has made 4,229 misleading claims in 558 days.

Trump also took to Twitter to question Dr. Blasey Ford’s credibility because she did not immediately report the assault.

Indira Henard, Executive Director of the DC Rape Crisis Center, however, explains that “when a survivor of sexual assault tells their story, they are telling a story of traumatic memories and it common for them to have delayed reporting, gaps in memory as well as coming forward much later. This is in large part due to the way in which the body not only holds and stores trauma, but the way in which the brain stores and recalls memory.”

Trump’s latest attack prompted a viral Twitter response using the hashtag #WhyIDidntReport. Advocates have also stressed that Dr. Blasey Ford is not on trial.

Protests are expected to continue throughout the country over the weekend and into next week. Activists are using the hashtag #Believe Survivors and #WeBelieveHer.

Media Resources: ABC News 9/21/18; CNN 9/20/18; Ms. Blog 9/20/18; Washington Post 9/16/18, 8/1/18; Twitter

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