Hundreds of people rallied Thursday on the University of Vermont campus against the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the United States Supreme Court.
The demonstration was attended by students from UVM and Champlain College, as well as university faculty, staff, and community members.
The event was both a call for a court that would preserve reproductive rights and also an embrace of sexual violence survivors, with a message of “we hear you and care about you.”
“As someone who has been a victim of sexual assault, this is very emotional for me,” said UVM senior Kira Nemeth, who attended the rally.
necn does not identify survivors of sexual violence without their permission, but Nemeth granted the news station permission to use her face and name in this report, saying it is important to her to speak up and show other survivors they are not alone.
Nemeth described Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony against Judge Kavanaugh as a watershed moment for the nation.
“If you aren’t moved by that, I don’t know what to say to you,” Nemeth said of Blasey Ford’s demeanor and recollections last week before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee. “It’s just a moral issue that’s of utmost importance to our society, and especially for women.”
Miriasha Borsykowsky, a UVM senior who attended the demonstration, said the visual of hundreds of people speaking up in unison was powerful, even though the rally happened far from Washington, D.C.
“We’re trying to do something,” Borsykowsky said. “And I think that’s really important, and in itself, just showing survivors that we care is really important, too.”
President Donald Trump’s pick for the nation’s highest court has steadfastly denied sexual assault and misconduct accusations as a teen and young man.
“I am innocent of this charge,” Kavanaugh insisted last week in testimony before the Judiciary Committee.
Annette Phares, who said she drove 90 minutes north to Burlington from her Vermont home to attend the rally, carried a sign saying “Kava-nope.”
Phares said she believes the FBI investigation opened last week into the nominee’s background should have taken longer, to ensure a more thorough vetting.
“I feel that there’s too many questions about his character, his temperament, and his partisanship, and therefore, he does not deserve to sit on the Supreme Court,” Phares told necn.
Many participants in the demonstration marched, taking their message on a loop around campus. They chanted their displeasure with Kavanaugh and the administration of President Trump—sometimes shouting profanities.
While the demonstration and march were mostly smooth, there was one brief moment of conflict that resulted in a heated exchange.
A man holding a sign saying “Kavanaugh is innocent” saw it snatched away by a protester, then when another man returned it, the protester yanked it back again and ripped it up.
As that unfolded, another protester decried rape culture. She pointed to the man’s sign claiming Kavanaugh is innocent as evidence that sexual assault survivors deserve to be believed.
Many students and Burlington-area residents at the demonstration promised their activism will not stop at the Supreme Court pick, calling themselves energized to help craft the future they want for their community and country.
“We can do anything we want to, we just have to come together,” UVM junior Riri Stuart-Thompson said.