'Women must be heard': Thousands march in US against Brett Kavanaugh

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Police arrest anti-Kavanaugh protesters inside the Hart Senate Office Building in Washington, DC, as lawmakers mull over an FBI report on accusations of sexual misconduct against the Supreme Court nominee.
Activists rally inside the Senate Hart Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington. PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (AFP) - Thousands of protesters - many of them survivors of sexual assault - marched on the US Supreme Court on Thursday (Oct 4) urging lawmakers not to confirm Brett Kavanaugh, the judge at the center of one of the most polarising debates of Donald Trump's presidency.

At the heart of the matter is Kavanaugh's alleged assault of Christine Blasey Ford, a California professor who last week testified before lawmakers - and more than 20 million Americans watching live on television - that the judge attempted to rape her in 1982, when they were both teenagers.

Her powerful account, along with Kavanaugh's angry rebuttal, has divided the country, rekindling the national conversation on sexual misconduct and the burden of proof in the #MeToo era.

As top Republicans confidently asserted on Thursday morning an FBI probe had found nothing to support Blasey Ford's claim, marchers decried a process they said was designed to exculpate the powerful.

Carrying signs that read "Women must be heard" or simply "Kava Nope," protesters marched from Washington's District Court to the steps of high court, chanting along the way.

"I believe Dr Ford, and I believe Kavanaugh is part of a Big Old Boys club that are going to protect him no matter what," said Angela Trzepkowski, a 55-year-old from Middletown Delaware who came to the march with two male friends.

If he is confirmed, "it will be devastating because the president had his thumb on the scale," she continued.

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"This was not the open, fair investigation we had bargained for."

Carolyn Heyman, a 41-year-old attorney from Alaska, said she had travelled to Washington with a group of friends to attend the protest and meet with their senator, Lisa Murkowski, a centrist Republican who said Trump's decision to mock Blasey Ford at a rally was "unacceptable."

"Regardless of what you think about the allegations, the way he reacted to the questions presented doesn't show he has the right temperament," she said of Kavanaugh's testimony.

"He was sarcastic and belligerent at times. That's not what you want on any court let alone the Supreme Court."

But as the march snaked its way around the capital, not everyone expressed their support.

Asked what she thought of the protest, Doreen Robinson, who was visiting the capital as a tourist from Washington State, said: "Not much."

Blasey Ford "wasn't raped, I just think they're blindly following a woman who has no evidence," she added.

"It's scary. I have a son and a daughter. I wouldn't want my son treated like Kavanaugh, and I wouldn't want my daughter saying that somebody assaulted her and not have any evidence of the fact."

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