While Yale Law students filled the hallways of the Sterling Law Building to protest Brett Kavanaugh’s ’87 LAW ’90 confirmation on Monday, Elm City residents gathered together on the New Haven Green to stage their own protest.
In conjunction with walkouts throughout the nation, about fifty New Haven residents came together to protest in solidarity with Christine Blasey Ford and Deborah Ramirez ’87, who have both publicly accused the Supreme Court nominee of sexual assault. Local organizations Nasty Women Connecticut, Black Lives Matter New Haven, Women’s March CT and Planned Parenthood Southern New England collaborated to organize the event with support from the Connecticut Alliance to End Sexual Violence. Speakers at the protest focused on coming together as a community to support survivors across the country in addition to protesting Kavanaugh’s confirmation.
“What I am hoping to gain from today is for people to be able to come together and create safe spaces and believe in survivors,” said Lauren Pittman, known as “Sun Queen,” one of the founders of Black Lives Matter New Haven. “I want us to be able to empower one another and realize that not everyone finds their voice. It takes community to heal together.”
At the protest, Pittman read a poem, titled #MeToo, about her own experiences being afraid to report sexual abuse. She also advocated for greater inclusivity in the movement, saying “Me Too. I too. We too.”
Other survivors in attendance shared stories as well, highlighting fears that they would not be believed if they reported their assaults.
Staffers from Planned Parenthood were present at the protest. Local Planned Parenthood Director of Public Policy, Advocacy and Strategic Engagement Gretchen Raffa read a statement urging the Senate Judiciary Committee to stop the confirmation of Kavanaugh.
The Connecticut Alliance to End Sexual Violence led its own walkout in East Hartford but issued a statement directed at all survivors. In addition to the Planned Parenthood statement, Raffa read the Alliance’s statement to attendees of the protest.
“We believe you. Your story is yours,” read the Alliance’s statement. “You decide if, when and to whom you will tell, in your own time, and to create a path for healing. We are here for you.”
The crowd of activists included a diverse mix of young professionals and retirees. But noticeably absent were members of the Yale community, who the organizers had hoped would join them from the Law School protest.
McClure told the crowd several times they were waiting to be joined by the Yale students. But when 2 P.M. arrived with no sign of them, a group of organizers decided to walk to the Law School instead.
“When we are doing a protest, it is really important to consider who is this protest for and what kind of activism we are teaching people,” McClure told the News. “The Yale protest was mainly for people who are privileged enough to speak. When we have this opportunity of two different events happening in a city like New Haven, we should come together. Today was about solidarity, and solidarity should be intersectional.”
McClure said that the Law School expressed concerns to her that if they had joined, they would be seen as invading the space that New Haven residents had created. But McClure noted that Yale students had created a space in which no one outside of the Law School was able to enter.
In her interview with the News, she expressed frustration that the community was unable to stand with the Law School when they had tried to get in touch. She added that one of the motivating factors for the walkout on the Green was the concern that Yale’s protest would not represent the community.
Nonetheless, members of the community were enthusiastic about the opportunity to support the nationwide walkout in New Haven. Ellen Rosenthal, a retired lawyer from Hamden, and Sara Ohly, a retired anthropologist from New Haven, spoke about the importance of showing up for younger generations.
“I’m a feminist, and I’m a grandmother,” Rosenthal said. “I want to have a better world for my granddaughter and all the grandchildren who are coming up now.”
Ford is a professor at Palo Alto University.
Carolyn Sacco | email@example.com