UPDATE, September 5, 3:16 p.m.: Sixty-one people were arrested during the first day of hearings for Brett Kavanaugh, according to United States Capitol Police.
Over 30 women affiliated with the Women’s March and other organizations were arrested Tuesday, the organization said, while protesting the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court during the first day of his hearings before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee.
“Women are disrupting this hearing today because our lives are at risk. Women will die if Kavanaugh is confirmed,” Women’s March Chief Operating Officer Rachel O’Leary Carmona said in a statement. “The gloves are off, the rings are on, and we’re ready to resist the fight that chose us. There is a political price to pay if you’re complicit in Trump’s white supremacist agenda: you will be voted out.”
The women interrupted the hearing while Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), judiciary committee chair, spoke. Screaming “please vote no,” protesters were arrested by Capitol Police officers and pulled from the hearing room. A Capitol Police Department (CPD) spokesperson promised to provide a statement with the final number of arrests after today’s hearings are over. But CPD reportedly told the Hill that it arrested 22 people during the morning’s hearing.
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The first protester to disrupt the proceedings was feminist activist and Women’s March co-founder Linda Sarsour.
“I have two daughters and I came here to fight for them. I don’t want my daughters to have less rights than I do in 2018, so I came to put my body on the line,” Sarsour said in a statement provided exclusively to Rewire.News after she was processed for her arrest. “I was the first one to stand up to Grassley and call it a travesty of justice, and I was dragged out very aggressively by a U.S. Capitol Police officer.”
The Women’s March, along with Center for Popular Democracy Action and other groups, organized the direct action. Last month, activists of color came to Capitol Hill to protest Kavanaugh’s nomination, and there will likely be more protests as the confirmation process proceeds.
“When I stood up, I said something very simple. I said ‘Senators, be a hero! Cancel this confirmation hearing,'” said Jennifer Epps-Addison, president and co-executive director of the Center for Popular Democracy Action, who says she was the second woman arrested at the hearing. “The women who got arrested today are ‘sheroes’ if I have ever seen any. They are putting their bodies on the line to save our democracy, and we will look back and we will say thank you to those women who were willing to stand and were willing to disrupt.”
Sarsour hopes lawmakers from both parties remember these protests come election season. “It was an important message to send to both Republicans and Democrats that women were not going to back down. We’re not going to sit back during the hearing, and we’re not going to sit back during the 2018 or 2020 elections.”
“I wrote letters, I called my senators, I asked my friends and family to take action, so this is not the only action I’ve taken. But I think, when the system is so rigged, that you have to get up and you have to get in its way. That’s why we decided to take a risk today,” said Epps-Addison.
This is a developing story. Rewire.News will continue to report as more information emerges.