Monday, October 1, 2018

“We Do Not Consent!” Stop the Kavanaugh Vote! #BirddogNation #CancelKavanaugh #BelieveChristine #IStillBelieveAnita #WeBelieveChristine #BrettBye #SavetheACA #DefendRoe #WomenDisobey

Scenes from last Thursday and Friday by Thanks for this great pictures Ken Schles

                                              TW Collins is with David Freeman at Russell Senate Office Building.

Jennifer Hadlock

We’ve been told for months it was impossible. Our hearts sank when Justice Kennedy retired and this unqualified, ultra-conservative political operative was nominated to the Supreme Court by an even more unqualified President. Opinion leaders told us, “you can’t win this one, move on” — but you didn’t.
Because of relentless activism and the heartbreaking bravery of Dr. Blasey Ford and so many more who have come forward, this nomination is on the ropes. Our so-called president was forced to delay the vote and launch an FBI investigation Trump, Kavanaugh, Grassely and all the malicious white man Senators like Graham and Hatch desperately wanted to avoid.
Image may contain: 5 people, text

Like a lot of people, I tuned into the Kavanaugh hearing Thursday.  Ford testified first. Dignified and nervous, she was a terrific witness. Kavanaugh followed, confirming the image people already had of him as short on honestly and long on bluster, aggressively challenging assertions, interrupting Senators, diverting questions, blaming, and pouting, not characteristics one wants from a Supreme Court justice who could be creating laws for generations.
By the time, I got done with class at six, it looked like the world had embraced Kavanaugh’s temper tantrum.
My friends from Center for Popular Democracy and Housing Works had been in DC all week long, organizing testimonials, bird dogging politicians, and committing civil disobedience.
Paul Davis, of Housing Works, wrote an email to everyone:
“Today’s hearing has been heart wrenching and traumatizing. At the same time, the hordes of activists swarming the halls were amazing. Check it: when the police shut down the *entire floor* of the Senate office building where the hearing was being held, birddoggers packed and filled every single elevator.
Even after the profoundly damming testimony today, Republicans leading the Judiciary Committee STILL have scheduled to a vote tomorrow (Fri, Sept 28) on this reprehensible nomination.
We will not let this vote happen. Show up tomorrow. Bring rape whistles. Shut this down for good.
Everyone: please meet at 7:30am at the Hart Senate Office Building Atrium.
We especially need more folks who can join a peaceful, non-violent civil disobedience. There are also important support roles to be played for non-CDers.
Thank you for being absolutely heroic during these exceptionally trying times.
Paul (from Housing Works) and Jennifer (from CPD-A).”
I got home from our union rally and meeting, watched Rachel Maddow and got ready for the action, leaving at 115 AM to catch the two AM bus from Union Square.
Austin, Judy, and Eric Sawyer were on the bus to greet me when I stumbled on at 215 AM.
Eric and I caught up. Sitting in that dark van in and out of sleep, we talked about all those battles through the years. He recalled hearing about the Stonewall Riots when he was in college and then meeting some of the guys in Gay Activist Alliance and then Larry Kramer when he got to New York.  He loved to New York watching whole cohorts of his friends get sick, many guys dying.  Watching them fade out of this life, he flashed back to images of their bodies, their struggles, sensuality, civil disobedience and years of arrests.
One year in 1994, Eric and Charles King challenged each other to see who could have more arrests.  Charles had some 52 busts that year, while Eric came close at 47.
My friend Marc from our union was on the ride on the other side, chatting about trade unionism and the transit strikes of history.
By 7AM, we arrived at a church outside the city.
Do you want good news or bad, Jennifer Flynn asked when we arrived, pointing out that it looked like Kavanaugh’s support was swelling.  Kavanaugh’s speech succeeded.
What’s the good news?
We’ve changed the narrative.
Ken and Zack were at the church.
They’d been here all week.
 FoodNotBombs was passing out food.
On the way from the Capital Skyline Hotel to the Hart Capital Building, Vanessa, an activist from Peekskill NY, and I talked about why she was there.
“I’m here because I want to make sure Kavanaugh is not confirmed to the Supreme Court. But its around a lot more than that,” she said. “Its about patriarchy and other deep-seated issues that haunt the country, including an imperialism that came to the continent.  This is not the time to sit down.  It’s time to act.”
We were driving past the Watergate, noted Zack.
And we got to talking and planning for the action.
“We Do Not Consent!”
We are trying to push off or disrupt the vote with whistles outside the hearing room.
Eric Sawyer provided a rationale for his participation.
“I am disgusted that the senate is supporting a liar, a predator, and someone committed to support Trump for obstruction of justice. The senate is trying to ran this predator down the throats of the people. It’s a travesty America.  Wake up.  Our democracy is in peril.”
Inside the Hart Senate Office building, the hallways were buzzing about, with birddoggers chasing politicians, priests & rabbis making speeches, etc.
I ran into my friend David, who was arrested four earlier times in the week. “The most powerful part was the individual stories” he said. “many people were sharing stories about assault for the first time, well mostly women, interconnection expanding as we build allies.”  The last time I was in DC, I arriving in the police holding area and there was David by himself with plastic cuffs on, hands in the air, laughing away. I asked about his first actions. “It was during the Poor People’s Campaign in 1968,” he told me.  On the way home, he was arrested for crossing state lines conspiring to riot. `They kept me in jail for a week.  Three days into I saw some priests walking through. I grabbed one and told him I’ve been in here for three days without seeing a lawyer. And they got me out.
As we were talking, Paul called for a mic check announcing we were all going to walk over to the hearing. On the way, some women were confronting Jeff Flake, one of the three republicans on the fence, as he went up to the chamber, where the committee was voting.
We’ve tried to lobby, call, set up meetings and none of these politicians want to hear from us, especially the leadership.
We got as close to the hearing room as we could and pulled out whistles.  A piercing noise filled the hall as some of us sat down. Others took pictures. 
“We believe Christine!” we chanted, hundreds of us there, ten women for every guy.
Police rushed us to pull away the whistles.
Hundreds of us were there, sitting in, chanting, blowing whistles as the police moved to forcibly rip them from our mouths.
“November is coming,” we screamed, echoing the sentiment that women are mobilized and ready to push back against those who rob women of choices and autonomy, those who fail to hear their pleas or acknowledge the long history of violence against women, by men such as judge the Judiciary Committee was debating.
I looked around and several women were holding hands.
Others were welling up with emotion.
The rape hotlines of women calling in to talk about their histories have been clogged since the hearings with Dr Ford testifying about her experience. Calm and controlled, her voice hinted at terror as she testified. “I Thought Brett Was 'Going To Kill Me' ... I believed he was going to rape me. ...”
Even if the man does not remember what happened, he could still acknowledge her pain.  If he can’t acknowledge her pain, imagine his lack of empathy for those who will be impacted by his decisions.
“We’re not going back!
We’re not going back!
We’re not going back!” we chanted.
The police began arresting people, giving us warnings, pulling people away as they continued to scream.
This is the face the country will see if they continue attack Roe.
Floods of bodies of women and their allies, disrupting, not ready to go back.
I found myself thinking of my kids and the world I hope for them to inherit.
Like all parents, I want them to grow up in a world with clear air, water and skies, full access to health care and reproductive autonomy.  I want them to grow up with more freedoms than I’ve  had. And that means to be able to control the way they have or do not have families. Its their life and choice, not Brett’s.
Looking around, many of the women were tearing up as they were arrested.
And their sisters were supporting them.
“Shame, shame, shame!” they screamed, everyone supporting each other.
You ok, a friend from several of the arrests said looking at me, putting a hand on my shoulder.
“Women united will never be defeated!”
“If you do not get up you will be arrested,” noted a police officer standing over me.
I kept chanting before standing up, putting my hands behind me.
He put my wrists in plastic cuffs, pulling extra tight and walked me away.
“We believe Christine!” I screamed passing a host of reporters. “We believe Christine!”
And so the sonata of those excluded from the hearing room and official channels continued, one line after another in a slow choreographed dance, as the police searched us, put our stuff in plastic bags, grouped us up, the police rubbing and checking all our sensitive parts, putting us on police vans and taking us back to the police holding center where they search us again and processed us.
People chatted with their arresting officers.  Zack and I recalled the 18 years we’ve been doing this together, wondering if we were over fetishizing arrests.
Are we moving the dial at all, we wondered.
“I think so,” noted David. The resistance is just getting stronger.
“I’d rather go down fighting, noted Charles King.
“This is nothing,” said King, my old civil disobedience mentor, talking about his hero MLK. “In King’s day, people were taking real risks, spending weeks and weeks in jail, losing their jobs for it, etc.  But King helped them believe in themselves, got them to be heroic.”
For the last few years, Charles has been going to the Museum of Lynching in Montgomery, Alabama. I try to talk about it in every speech I give. That sickness is in all us of us.  Its impending the progress on HIV, pulling us deeper and deeper into amnesia.  The museum maintains: “Lynching created a fearful environment in which racial subordination and segregation were maintained for decades. Most critically, lynching reinforced a legacy of racial inequality that has never been adequately addressed in America. Public acknowledgment of mass violence is essential not only for victims and survivors, but also for perpetrators and bystanders who suffer from trauma and damage related to their participation in systematic violence and dehumanization.”
As we were talking they called Charles’ name. And he left.
My name came up soon afterwards.
Walking outside Darius and Judy greeted me.
“How’s it looking inside?”
“Well, they have not voted yet.”
“You think Jeff Flake might pull a McCain?” I wondering, asking about his old friend’s last minute vote to save the Affordable Care Act. “What’s in it for him to support Trump?  If he goes against it, he gets on TV, sells more books, and honors his friend’s legacy.
Walking inside the Capital Skyline hotel, a few activists were watching the committee deliberations on TV.
Several of the women getting out noted they had talked to Jeff Flake.
We all started looking at the news.
On Facebook, Jaron Benjamin was with Jennifer Flynn Walker.
“BOOM!!!! Ana Maria Archila Gualy and Maria Gallagher just flipped Flake, who is now calling for FBI investigation! This birddogging stuff works!!!!!”
The news started reporting that:
We all watched the committee vote.
Working with Collins and Murkowski, Flake insisted on an FBI investigation for the next week before he could vote.
Its democracy, I can’t be mad at him, noted Lindsay Graham.
Monday is the first of October and Kavanaugh is not on the court shouted one women, just out of jail.
We bought some time. But the limited scope of the FBI investigation is troubling.
But regardless, we can see this man does not have the temperament to be a judge on the highest court in the land.  His petty display on Thursday, chalk full of half truths, deception and lies should disqualify him.
Can democracy endure such a tilt to the right on the courts?
Its not easy to know.
Democracy demands an independent judiciary.
Emily Bass and I grab a ride Union Station. And talk for a second about our ongoing struggles and overlapping movements, as the Center for Popular Democracy dovetails along the long road from ACT UP to the WTO, the Civil Rights movement Charles King admires to the Housing Works organization he still runs, as is straddles between AIDS services and radical civil rights missions. Jennifer Flynn and  Paul Davis got us here, reminding us that the victories around women’s autonomy, AIDS, and healthcare happened because people put their bodies on the lines. Direct Action gets the goods.
But we always have to reinvent it.
As Emily Bass writes in “How to Survive a Footnote”:
The struggle over the Kavanaugh confirmation is far from over. I thought about it all the way home, watching the sun fade into the evening as we made our way through Delaware, past Philly and Newark.
By the time I got there, Paul had already posted another dispatch calling for more bodies to flood Washington DC in the upcoming week.
THIS IS IT. We've seen that all your work over the past weeks and months have made a difference, but now we need to come out in huge numbers. If you've been looking for the right week to call in sick, cash in those vacation days, THIS IS THAT WEEK. Build a group from your area, work to put together carpools/shared trips as much as you can, and sign up below. #WeBelieveChristine #BrettBye #SavetheACA #DefendRoe #WomenDisobey
JOIN US • Oct 3/4/5, 2018 • Washington DC

No comments:

Post a Comment