An estimated 40 to 50 people gathered in downtown Bel Air Wednesday evening to protest the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court and express their support to sexual assault survivors.
Protestors stood at the intersection of South Main Street and Churchville Road, holding signs and chanting as steady evening rush hour traffic passed. The protest was organized by Together We Will Harford County/Upper Chesapeake.
Aravinda Pillalamarri, a Bel Air resident and Together We Will member, estimated 40 to 50 people came out, including parents and their young children. People were there for about an hour, according to Pillalamarri.
They chanted slogans such as “Kavanaugh lied, then he fake cried, he is not bona fide,” referring to his emotional testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee last Friday.
Kavanaugh has been nominated by President Donald Trump to fill the seat left vacant after former Justice Anthony Kennedy retired over the summer. He has been accused by three women recently of committing sexual assaults while in high school and college. Those allegations are under investigation by the FBI.
Dr. Christine Blasey Ford claims Kavanaugh tried to assault her at a party when they were high school students in Montgomery County. Ford, who was 15 years old at the time of the alleged assault, gave several hours of testimony to the Judiciary Committee last week.
Her testimony was followed by Kavanaugh’s. The nominee angrily defended himself, denied Ford’s allegations and verbally sparred with Democratic senators on the committee who asked him whether he drank alcohol to excess as a teen and its potential role in the assault against Ford. Democrats also repeatedly asked him if he supported a FBI investigation, but he did not answer directly, rather saying he would support the committee’s wishes regarding an investigation.
Those who gathered in downtown Bel Air Wednesday were not having it. They chanted “cancel Kavanaugh” and “we believe survivors.”
“I do not feel that his testimony last week was credible,” Together We Will member Steven Preston, 58, of Abingdon, said. “I don’t believe his temperament is there to become a Supreme Court justice.”
Protesters also called for protecting the rights of transgender people and “human rights” overall.
“Kavanaugh is just really scary,” Khiyali Pillalamarri said. “He threatens everyone’s rights, basically.”
Khiyali is the 15-year-old daughter of Aravinda Pillalamarri. She attends Aberdeen High School, where she is in the Science and Mathematics Academy magnet program.
She lamented that many of her peers don’t seem to know about the controversy over Kavanaugh, that they do not follow the news.
“Being 15, it is kind of frightening that this [assault] happened [to Ford] when she was 15,” Khiyali said.
A number of drivers honked their horns in support, but others shouted from their vehicles. One man could be heard shouting “make America great,” a reference to Trump’s popular “Make America Great Again” slogan.
Preston said he found Ford’s testimony credible and authentic. He said he has heard stories from female relatives about their experiences with abuse, and he has seen statistics about how many women in the U.S. have been victims.
“It’s one of the things that I believe that society is still reckoning with really hard,” he said.
Alison Kinney, 18, of Port Deposit, said she has experienced sexual harassment, and she wants women’s voices to be heard. She said she seeks cultural changes in the relationships between men and women which she said lead to assault and harassment.
Kinney, who is home schooled and turned 18 Wednesday, said she plans to attend a rally against Kavanaugh in Washington, D.C. Thursday. She said there could also be “acts of civil disobedience” there.
“It’s a really important issue and a really important time to be involved in stopping this nomination,” Kinney said.