After being confronted by two sexual assault survivors on Friday who opposed his decision to move forward the nomination of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, Arizona Senator Jeff Flake was greeted by hundreds of sexual assault survivors and supporters in Boston on Monday.
Flake was scheduled to appear at Emerson College on Monday as part of the Forbes Under 30 Summit in Boston, but amidst security concerns, Flake’s appearance was moved to the main Forbes event spot on City Hall Plaza.
Elected officials and activists quickly planned a protest for City Hall Plaza on Monday in order to greet Flake in Boston and to call on him and other Senators to reject Kavanaugh’s nomination.
“Kava-what?” yelled ACLU of Massachusetts Executive Director Carol Rose, leading the packed crowd in a chant. “Kava-no!” the crowd yelled back.
When Flake was confronted by two sexual assault survivors in an elevator on Friday, they told him that by supporting Kavanaugh, Flake was telling them and other survivors that their experiences did not matter.
That sentiment was echoed on Monday as more survivors spoke out at the Boston protest.
“I have one question for Senator Flake, and all of the Republican members of the Senate Committee and of the Senate,” said Massachusetts Senate President Karen Spilka. “Just what message are you sending our women and girls of America? What message are you sending them, every woman, every man or child who has suffered abuse and had the courage to come forward?”
“You are telling them that their voices don’t matter,” she continued. “That they are not valued members of our society, worthy of trust and respect. I hope for the sake of my children and my future grandchildren that we ultimately send the message that every single voice matters.”
Boston protestor: ‘Jeff Flake…we’re coming for you’
Sexual assault survivors also spoke directly to Senator Flake at the protest, like Delia Harrington, a member of the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center’s survivor speaker bureau. Harrington shared how like Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, she had been assaulted as a teenager and often had her story dismissed by others since she “got away.”
“To Judge Kavanaugh, Jeff Flake, the president and all those other men like them, Dr. Ford’s not a scared teenager anymore and neither am I, and we’re coming for you,” Harrington said.
Ayanna Pressley, a Boston City Councilor who is poised to become the first woman of color to represent Massachusetts in the House of Representatives, has been outspoken about being a survivor and spoke at the protest, as well.
“There are many parts that make up my identity. Chief amongst them, I’m black, I’m a woman and I am a survivor,” Pressley told the crowd. “The American people deserve the truth, we are entitled to the truth. Survivors are entitled to justice. And after Dr. Ford has been sentenced to a lifetime of trauma and shame, Brett Kavanaugh is not entitled to a lifetime appointment.”
Speakers noted that beyond these sexual assault allegations, they believed Kavanaugh was unfit to serve on the Supreme Court because of his temperament during his Senate hearing as well as his previous track record on issues related to women’s reproductive rights.
“Let’s not forget that Kavanaugh was nominated with the promise of overturning Roe v. Wade, and already rules to limit access to birth control,” said Dr. Jennifer Childs-Roshak, president of Planned Parenthood Advocacy Fund of Massachusetts. “Now we are seeing politicians try to rush his nomination despite a cloud of doubt about his behavior, his character and his judicial temperament.”
The protest calling on Sen. Flake to reject Kavanaugh’s nomination was sponsored by the ACLU of Massachusetts, NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts, Planned Parenthood Advocacy Fund of Massachusetts, BARCC and other advocacy organizations.