Partaking in History: What It Was Like to be Downtown During Dr. Ford’s Testimony

By Usma Hosain

The atmosphere that morning that Dr. Ford took the stand was somber. The clouds had turned the sky grey, and there was a chilly breeze in the air. I had been tasked with going downtown to Capitol Hill to observe what was happening and document what I saw. On my way down there I pulled up the hearing, listening as I walked to the heart of where this was all taking place. As I walked toward the Supreme Court, I could see how many people were gathered. In one corner, I saw newscasters sitting by a blue tarp tent with blankets and coffee. In the other corner, I saw a mass of people. One woman had a sign held up higher than the others. In black and red letters, it said “Kavanope.”

Examining the crowd, I was surprised to see how many different kinds of people had showed up at the steps of the Supreme Court. In the front of the crowd were Kavanaugh protesters such as the woman holding the Kavanope sign and another woman next to her holding up a hunger strike sign. Gathered in front of them were Kavanaugh protesters dressed mostly in black, standing in solidarity and silently protesting. In the very back of the group, there were young white boys, probably around their late teens, who were wearing the bright red “Make America Great Again” caps. I could not tell whether or not they were there in protest or support of Kavanaugh. They stood silently at the back and observed, standing rather close to the crowd of protesters which made it hard for me to discern what their purpose there was.

I took a seat by the fountain, used the hot spot on my phone and pulled the hearing up on my laptop while I live tweeted from our organization’s twitter. Next to me was a family, with the mother was breastfeeding her child under a blanket. As I took a look around me, I noticed that the larger crowd has dispersed leaving the two women protesting with the hunger strike and Kavanope signs. About five minutes, two middle aged white women showed up holding signs that read “I stand with Brett Kavanaugh.” They held their signs above their heads. As I listened to Dr. Ford’s testimony, I could not help but wonder how these women could stand here in support of Kavanaugh while another woman, just like them, was testifying in front of U.S. senators to the assault she experienced at his hands. As a woman, I felt a sense of disappointment in them and their desire to protect a man like Kavanaugh.

There was a lot of law enforcement present there that day. There were the usual guards, roaming up and down the stairs of the court,; however, I noticed that throughout the time I was there, cop cars would slowly roll by and patrol. This is not uncommon being that the Court is in downtown DC; however, it was particularly noticeable that day given the tense feeling that encapsulated the area outside the court.

The crowds grew and shrank as time went on and unfortunately, I ended up leaving when my phone died and my access to the hearing was cut off. It was in stark contrast to the following day; however, when massive crowds showed up. That Friday, I had to go to class and unfortunately could not participate in the demonstrations so I was left to follow it online. Following Dr. Ford’s testimony, when news broke that the committee was still going to push the vote through, outrage broke out and people from all corners of DC, of all identities came forward to stand up and say “enough is enough!”

The Kavanaugh hearings have divided the country; however, it has also brought people together to unite against having sexual assailants in some of the most powerful positions in the world. We are at the forefront of a movement here. We must mobilize, call our senators, and say that “enough is enough!”

The political leader of the pro-choice movement in Maryland.

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