Kava-NAH: Pittsburgh locals protest Supreme Court nomination


Thomas Yang | Assistant Visual Editor

One of more than 75 protesters who gathered in Schenley Plaza Thursday afternoon holds a sign that reads “Cancel Kavanaugh #BelieveSurvivors.”

By Jon Kunitsky , Staff Writer

More than 200 miles away from Washington, D.C., dozens of protestors huddled beneath the Schenley Plaza tent seeking cover from the pouring rain. They held signs reading, “No abusers on the Supreme Court,” “THEY LAUGHED ABOUT IT” and “BELIEVE SURVIVORS.”

They were there to protest a single man — Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

More than 75 Pittsburgh locals attended the protest, titled “Cancel Kavanaugh: Walk Out, Rally, and Speak Out!” Protesters held signs, chanted and shared personal accounts of sexual assault.

The event — hosted by The Socialist Alternative, a national anti-capitalist, pro-labor organization, and the Pittsburgh Democratic Socialist of America — was organized to express outrage over Kavanaugh’s possible confirmation to the Supreme Court. Representatives from Pitt’s Graduate Student Organizing Committee, the International Socialist Organization and the Act Now to Stop War and End Racism coalition also attended.

The rally took place just one day before the Senate was set to vote on whether Judge Kavanaugh should be confirmed as a Supreme Court justice. His candidacy is surrounded by allegations of sexual assault by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, which were made public on Sept. 27 in a Washington Post report.

Dr. Ford testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee Sept. 27 to describe the alleged incident and spoke of Kavanaugh and bystander Mark Judge’s joy during her assault.

“Indelible in the hippocampus is the laughter,” Dr. Ford said at the hearing. “The uproarious laughter between the two. They’re having fun at my expense.”

Judge Kavanaugh has denied all allegations of sexual misconduct.

“This has destroyed my family and my good name. A good name built up through decades of very hard work and public service at the highest levels of the American government,” he said.

Alicia Salvadeo, treasurer of Socialist Alternative’s Pittsburgh branch, opened the rally with a call to cancel Kavanaugh’s confirmation and deny any appointee who goes against the group’s viewpoints. She also detailed her group’s overall initiative to extend reproductive rights for women, end corporate greed and fight for workers’ rights.

“We are outraged that our leaders at the capitol have learned nothing and Kavanaugh plans to be confirmed tomorrow,” Salvadeo said. “We are here also to say ‘no’ to any appointee who poses a threat to Roe v. Wade, who poses a threat to DACA, who poses a threat to women and working people who want to unionize for better wages and working conditions.”

Salvadeo continued by naming the women who have come forward with allegations against Judge Kavanaugh — including Deborah Ramirez and Julie Swetnick. She also mentioned Professor Carol Stabile, formerly of Pitt’s communication department, who has spoken publicly about sexual harassment within her department.

After remarks by organizing leaders, members of the crowd volunteered to come forward to share their stories of sexual assault. Carlow University sophomore Dana Brown was among the first to stand up to speak of her recent trauma and her frustrations with Kavanaugh’s confirmation.

“I am here to stand up against Kavanaugh because I cannot let this happen,” Brown said. “We will not allow this to go on. I didn’t report, and why I didn’t report is because I was told it was my fault. And I know that’s not true.”

Brown and other protestors also defended Dr. Ford, citing her strength for coming forward with her story.  

“I stand with Dr. Ford,” Brown said. “She’s a powerful women. Anyone who says she is making it up, they need to reevaluate their morals.”

CMU alumni and Squirrel Hill resident Sarah Allen attended the rally to protest the politicalization of the Kavanaugh hearings and Dr. Ford’s accusations.

“I am disgusted by the way our current politicians have been treating this hearing as a purely political and partisan issue, and not actually listening to survivors and their stories,” Allen said. “I feel like they’re not taking anything seriously.”

Though anger and emotions ran high, the rally did not take on an aggressive tone, unlike the Washington, D.C., “Cancel Kavanaugh” event today outside the Hart Senate Office Building. There, hundreds of protestors, including comedian Amy Schumer, were arrested for unlawful demonstration.

In Pittsburgh, members of the crowd described a sense of community created through the common viewpoint they shared.  

“[The rally] was really great to see that there are other people who feel similarly, and to have a sense solidarity, especially amongst survivors,” Allen said. “I really liked the fact that the floor was open for everybody to speak, and that anyone who wanted to share their viewpoint was given the time and the space to do that.”