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Kavanaugh Protests Continue to the End

'Sexual Predators on the Court, Hell no, We Don’t Support'

Protests against the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to become a Justice of the Supreme Court resumed on Thursday, October 4, and continued through Saturday, October 6 when he was officially sworn in. While the protesters were still mostly women, more younger women came than in September, dropping the average age of the protesters by at least 15 years.

At the pre-protest training at a nearby hotel, they role-played getting arrested and discussed how much resistance or non-cooperation to offer.

Scheduled for 12:30 p.m., the rally at the federal courthouse didn’t last long. Thousands of people began to march toward and around the Capitol while DC police blocked streets.

Around 1:30 they gathered in front of the Supreme Court steps where they had rallied many times during September.

The Supreme Court police stood at the top of those steps to make sure that no protestors ascended them.

For an hour protestors listened to speakers that they could not see, who were on the same level as the audience and surrounded by people. They sweated in 90 degree heat and humidity or huddled in what little shade there was across the street on the Capitol grounds.

At 2:30 the crowd was told to go to Hart atrium. There they became more and more raucous. Along with a few men, women chanted loudly, waved signs and banners and generally made enough noise to disturb anyone trying to work.

Dozens of police slowly gathered. They gave the requisite three warnings to those who didn’t want to be arrested to leave, but let those who stayed protest for about 15-20 minutes before beginning the removal process.

Those not wanting to be arrested retreated to the many balconies facing the Hart atrium where they watched the action below.

Some held signs or dropped banners from those balconies which were generally ignored by the cops.

Several offices, probably of Democratic Senators, also displayed signs in their windows saying such things as “We Believe Survivors” and “Kava NO.”

Due to the many arrests the preceding month, the cops had almost run out of white, plastic handcuffs. They attached colored wristbands to one wrist, with the arresting officer’s number written on them. That way that officer could be identified if any of the protestors actually went to court — which was unlikely.

Because one arm was free, arrestees raised their fist as they were escorted to the back entrance of Hart and out the door.

Sheer numbers precluded transport to the regular processing centers. As was done on September 4, prisoners were led to the upper Senate Park where they sat on the grass until the time came for their charge to be written up.

They had 15 days to bring exactly $50 cash bail to the USCP building across the street. Once paid, the bail was forfeited, and they were free to go.

Senate leaders had scheduled a vote on a motion to end debate for 10:30 on Friday, October 5. If passed, the Senate would have 30 hours in which to vote to confirm Kavanaugh to be a Justice on the Supreme Court, or not. The count was 51-49 to end debate. Of the four undecided Senators, both the Republicans and the Democrats split, with Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) not voting with their party.

Pretty much everyone who could find a Senate office to sit in was watching the speeches and the vote. As soon as the result was announced a cheer went up from Hart atrium. Of course, it was the ‘pros’ who won, not the ‘antis’ who had been hanging out in the Hart atrium for most of the last month. Indeed a group of ‘pros’ had congregated in one corner of the atrium for a photo-op, displaying signs. This was an arrestable offense, but they weren’t there long and the cops left them alone. Most of the ‘pros’ were now wearing white t-shirts, which made them easier to distinguish from the ‘antis’, who were still favoring black.

When the ‘antis’ returned to Hart they were sent out to “birddog” Senators. Some went to different offices. Some stood in the tunnels beneath the buildings at the entrance to the subways to the Capitol. These are guarded by police, but Senators going to their offices have to pass into public hallways in order to get there. The ‘pros’ were doing the same so the two groups often passed each other or tried to occupy the same space.

In the afternoon I joined a group going to Joe Manchin’s office, knowing they intended to get arrested. Initially they sat in the office telling their personal stories to the young staffers on the front desk, while it was streamed online.

After 15 minutes they went outside and occupied the hallway, linking arms and chanting. The cops were waiting, and dutifully arrested everyone who didn’t move out of the way. Handcuffs were back. About 15 people were taken to the processing center. Similar actions happened at other Senator’s offices.

At 3:00 Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) told the Senate why she had decided to confirm Kavanaugh, followed by a short statement from Senator Manchin. He said he’d vote to confirm “with reservations.” He was the only Democrat to vote for confirmation. Sen. Lisa Murkowski was the only Republican to vote against confirmation. Manchin is running for re-election in November in a red state. Murkowski doesn’t have to run until 2022.

When Senator Manchin entered the hallway outside his Hart office, he was besieged by ‘antis’ who had not been arrested, as well as a lot of press. Shouting “SHAME,” their anger was palpable.

After police escorted him to an elevator, many protestors went into his office, where one tearfully told the same front-desk staff her story of assault and another tore up a written statement she had left earlier.

Several ‘pros’ came in. The exchange that followed between the two groups was more heated than a dialogue but less so than a confrontation.

At 5:00 p.m. staff asked all to leave so they could close the office and go home.

On Saturday, October 6 thousands gathered in front of the Supreme Court. Many brought their children. There was no podium or microphone, making it hard to hear the speakers.

The Court was closed. The Supreme Court police let people onto the plaza and even the long steps to the front doors as long as they weren’t carrying signs. T-shirts were permitted.

Police kept those on the plaza seven feet from the edge of the steps to the sidewalk; “for safety” said one officer.

USCP police waited in busses on side streets for something to happen.

Around a thousand people slowly gathered on the Capitol lawn where those willing to get arrested filled out forms.

A little after 12:30 p.m. they began rapidly marching toward the east Capitol steps.

About 500 mounted the steps before the Capitol police could get there to block access.

When their yellow tape barrier was ignored, the cop brought out metal barricades.

Protestors shouted, chanted, and waved their banners from the Capitol steps for about 15 minutes.

Capitol police gathered below.

After a captain gave the first warnings, many left.

About 150 were left to be escorted down the stairs where they were cuffed and walked away to be processed.

The rest regrouped in front of the Supreme Court, where a podium had finally been set up.

One after another speaker addressed the crowd. Judging by the applause, the most popular was Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).

The crowd gradually took over the street between the Capitol and the Court as the police blocked cars from using that street.

A few Women for Kavanaugh and men wearing Trump t-shirts wandered among the protestors.

When one of the latter began speaking into a megaphone, he was surrounded by antis and pushed to the edge of the crowd.

This continued through the roll call vote to confirm. Inside the Senate, 13 antis who had obtained seats in the Senate Gallery were arrested when they raised their fists and spoke out in protest during that roll call.

Most protesters had drifted away by the time Kavanaugh was sworn in that evening. A little before 6:00 p.m. those remaining stormed up the Supreme Court steps and pounded on the doors. Supreme court police formed a line and walked them back down. The Capitol police later said that a total of 164 had been arrested for protesting that day.

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Jo Freeman

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