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Dispatches From the Protests Outside the Kavanaugh Hearing

Women of all ages have descended on Capitol Hill to protest President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee

Protestors gather inside the Hart Senate Office Building as Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, one of the women accusing him of sexual assault, prepare to testify on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, USA, 27 September 2018. Kavanaugh's once-certain nomination is now in doubt as Kavanaugh faces multiple accusations of sexual improprieties while in high school and college.Protestors gather as Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford testify on Capitol Hill, Washington, USA - 27 Sep 2018

Protestors gather inside the Hart Senate Office Building as Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, one of the women accusing him of sexual assault, prepare to testify on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on September 27th, 2018.

Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA-EFE/REX Shutterstock

WASHINGTON — You heard them before you saw them.

“We believe Anita Hill! We believe Christine!” the protesters chanted. “Stop Kavanaugh!”

They came to Capitol Hill hours before the Senate Judiciary Committee began hearing testimony from Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, the research psychologist who alleges that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when she was 15 and he was 17.

The hallways outside the small hearing room in the Dirksen Senate building where Ford and Kavanaugh will speak were quiet and heavily policed, no lingering allowed, with members of the media confined to marked-off “pens.” The room itself was empty but for a few journalists.

A short walk away, well over a hundred demonstrators had gathered around Alexander Calder’s towering “Mountains and Clouds” sculpture in the atrium of the Hart Senate building to protest Kavanaugh’s nomination, voice their support for Ford and demand that senators vote against the judge’s Supreme Court confirmation. Their chants filled the Hart building and echoed into Dirksen.

There were protesters dressed in purple and black and Army green. The crowd was mixed in gender and race and spanned generations, but was comprised predominantly of women. One older woman dressed in black pushed a walker with her left hand while she raised her right in protest. One young girl, no older than three, held her mother’s hand as they moved through the crowd. A group affiliated with the Women’s March wore jackets riffing off First Lady Melania Trump’s infamous “I really don’t care, do u?” jacket. In the same white script, these jackets said: “November is coming.”

Several dozen women came representing Holton-Arms, the private, all-girls school that Ford attended when she was allegedly assaulted by Kavanaugh. The Holton-Arms women wore blue-and-white plaid skirts or strips of blue-and-white plaid tied to their pants. Some donned navy T-shirts that said “DON’T MESS” on the front and “HOLTON-ARMS” on the back.

Flanked on both sides by Capitol Police officers, the demonstrators lined up along the balcony overlooking the walkway that connects the Hart and Dirksen buildings. They held purple signs out to anyone — especially any senator — who had happened to pass by that said, “I believe survivors. No on Kavanaugh.” They raised their palms above their heads and chanted, “We believe survivors,” and then they went silent, hands still aloft.

As 10 a.m. approached, some of the demonstrators emptied out of the Hart building and walked to Dirksen. They wore black tape over their mouths inscribed with the words “Believe Survivors.” Others remained in Hart, their voices filling the atrium as they planned their next move.

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