Madison joined around 170 other cities across the country Thursday to protest the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The march was organized by a coalition of student organizations including Young Democratic Socialists of America, Socialist Alternative, International Socialist Organization, Promoting Awareness Victim Empowerment, Bell Magazine and the Women and Gender Studies club in the face of the looming confirmation vote, set to take place Friday, Oct. 4.
Protesters marched from Library Mall to the state Capitol building in support of Christine Blasey Ford, who accused her former classmate, Kavanaugh, of sexual assault while the two were in high school.
The march coincided with the International Women’s Strike, and coordinators encouraged people to walk out of class or work in solidarity with Ford, other survivors and Kavanaugh.
“I believe Christine Ford, I believe Anita Hill,” protesters chanted.
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The leading organizations, including Luke Elkenrod of SA, said Kavanaugh’s confirmation could overturn key court cases — such as Roe v. Wade — and would only help support an already “sexist system.”
“We are witnessing a historic cultural shift right now,” Elkenrod said. “Like the civil rights movements of the 60s, which drove overt racism underground, the women’s movement … forced powerful men from their pedestals and even went so far as to make the reactionary GOP think twice about not believing women when they say they’ve been sexually assaulted. But we clearly have far to go.”
Though the protesters encountered some resistance, it seemed to only increase their passion.
One Kavanaugh supporter, University of Wisconsin junior Derek Thomas, said he thinks the accusations against Kavanaugh are completely false.
“The [Republican National Committee] has reported that there is nothing more incriminating against him [in the FBI’s report],” Thomas said. “I mean, what else do you want? They asked for a week delay, they got it.”
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But some protesters felt that even if the FBI investigation found nothing, Kavanaugh’s behavior at the most recent hearing disqualifies him.
According to UW freshman Abi Houghton, Kavanaugh’s apparent opposition to an investigation is fundamentally against what a justice or judge should be.
“Even if Christine Blasey Ford was lying, which I do not believe at all, he acted like a child in the hearing and was unable to answer a yes or no question,” Houghton said.
Several survivors of sexual assault told their stories to the crowd gathered on the Capitol’s steps. Some also explained that they did this to remind Ford, and any other victims of sexual assault, they are not alone.
Others stressed there is a lot more than a SCOTUS seat on the line.
“How many more years do we have to allow this to fall through the seams?” one survivor, who wished to remain anonymous, asked. “How many more years do we have to allow things like this to happen just because people won’t listen? How much louder do we have to yell in order to finally be heard?”
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Organizers of the march also expressed the need for intersectionality when it comes to dealing with issues of sexual violence and assault.
PAVE Chair Kennedie King also stressed the importance of not marginalizing any group in the fight against sexual violence.
“We all need to recognize that sexual violence affects more than just cisgendered white women,” King said.