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Amy Schumer and Emily Ratajkowski among hundreds arrested after march in Washington against Brett Kavanaugh

Kavanaugh, who has been accused of sexual assault while a teenager, still seems set to win confirmation to a lifetime appointment on the US high court - causing thousands of women to march on the US capital

PUBLISHED : Friday, 05 October, 2018, 6:48am
UPDATED : Friday, 05 October, 2018, 1:32pm

A sea of women marched on Washington on Thursday to urge senators not to confirm Brett Kavanaugh as a Supreme Court judge in what has become one of the most polarising debates of Donald Trump’s presidency.

At least 302 people, including comedian Amy Schumer and model Emily Ratajkowski, were arrested during the protests for illegally taking their demonstration against Kavanaugh – who has been accused of attempted rape by university professor Christine Blasey Ford – into the Senate office buildings.

The vast majority of the arrests – 293 – came during a sit-in the Senate’s Hart Atrium. Another nine people were arrested for another demonstration on the fourth floor of the adjacent Dirksen Senate Office Building. Schumer, who had spoken earlier at an anti-Kavanaugh rally, is seen apparently being arrested in a Twitter video. Ratajkowski said on Twitter that she was also detained and arrested.

They were among thousands of women who travelled from across the United States to protest – and in some cases to meet with their representatives – in hope of preventing Kavanaugh, 53, from taking a lifetime appointment on the highest bench in the land.

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A vote on Kavanaugh’s appointment is to be taken this weekend by the Republican-majority Senate, and his ascendancy to the Supreme Court looks likely.

Last week Blasey Ford testified before lawmakers – and more than 20 million Americans watching live on television – that Kavanaugh attacked her in 1982, when she was 15 and he was 17.

Her powerful account, along with Kavanaugh’s fiery rebuttal, has divided the country, rekindling the national conversation on sexual misconduct and the burden of proof in the #MeToo era.

This was not the open, fair investigation we had bargained for
Angela Trzepkowski, protester

As top Republicans confidently asserted Thursday morning an FBI supplemental inquiry had found nothing to support Blasey Ford’s claim, marchers decried a process they said was designed to exculpate the powerful.

Carrying signs that read “Women must be heard” or simply “Kava Nope,” protesters marched from Washington’s federal district court to the steps of the high court, chanting along the way.

Some of those present at the march had their own experiences with sexual assault. “I’m a survivor myself, and I didn’t really tell my story, it happened in high school,” said Jessica Cathcart, a 24-year-old Californian.

“Seeing the testimony of Christine Blasey Ford and then seeing the response to her testimony, and the response to his testimony, I had to come here.”

Angela Trzepkowski, 55, of Delaware who came to the march with two male friends, said she would be devastated if Kavanaugh is confirmed.

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“I believe Dr Ford, and I believe Kavanaugh is part of a Big Old Boys club that are going to protect him no matter what,” she explained.

If he is confirmed, “it will be devastating because the president had his thumb on the scale”, she continued. “This was not the open, fair investigation we had bargained for.”

Carolyn Heyman, a 41-year-old lawyer from Alaska, said she had travelled to Washington with a group of friends to attend the protest and meet with their senator, Lisa Murkowski, a centrist Republican who said that Trump’s decision to mock Blasey Ford at a midweek rally was “unacceptable”.

Regardless of what you think about the allegations, [Kavanaugh doesn’t have] the right temperament
Carolyn Heyman, protester

“Regardless of what you think about the allegations, the way he reacted to the questions presented doesn’t show he has the right temperament,” she said of Kavanaugh’s testimony.

“He was sarcastic and belligerent at times. That’s not what you want on any court let alone the Supreme Court.”

As the march snaked its way around the capital, Ben Bergquam, a Trump supporter from California who carried his own sign in favour of Kavanaugh, baited protesters and questioned their sincerity.

“This is all being done because they’re afraid they’re going to lose Roe v Wade,” he said, referring to a 1973 judgment that paved the way for legal abortion in the US, which analysts say is imperilled if conservatives gain a 5-4 majority on the Supreme Court.

“This entire thing is being done to protect abortion. I believe we should have thousands more Americans, who support our president, out here. I’m praying that Kavanaugh will be confirmed and I believe that he will.”

Many of the protesters were resigned to the possibility that with a Republican majority in the Senate, the Kavanaugh nomination remained on track.

“Being realistic, he is going to get confirmed,” said Cathcart. “But coming here, seeing this – there is such a big wave coming, such a big wave, for women, for people of colour, for all minorities.

“We are a giant melting pot and that is the best part of this country. He is probably going to get confirmed but their time is limited.”

Additional reporting by Associated Press