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Protests build on Capitol Hill ahead of Brett Kavanaugh vote

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Kavanaugh appeared to have secured the needed votes on Friday, when Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, who had been one of a handful of officially undecided senators, announced she would vote “yes” on his confirmation.

“I can’t understand how a woman could turn her back on other women,” Shapiro said of Collins. “She’s a traitor, and we’ll vote her out in November.”

Just before 1 p.m. ET, hundreds of protesters crossed police lines to gather on the steps of the Senate, chanting, “November is coming.”

Some held large red signs with black letters, stretched across several steps that read, “We believe all survivors.” Two women kneeled in front of the steps, fists raised in the air, before hundreds more protesters who gathered in front of the steps.

Within half an hour, police began climbing the steps and detaining protesters. As they were brought off the steps, officers zip-tied protesters’ hands behind their backs before leading them away from the building.

As the protests in Washington D.C. continued to escalate, simultaneous protests were taking place in cities across the United States like Denver, Atlanta, Cleveland, and New York City.

Earlier in the day at the Capitol, as protesters gathered, some carried signs quoting Christine Blasey Ford, the psychology professor at Palo Alto University who alleged that Kavanuagh sexually assaulted her in high school.

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“I am here because I believe it is my civic duty,” one sign proclaimed, quoting Ford.

Other signs referenced testimony given by Kavanaugh in response to Ford’s allegations.

“If only he liked women as much as he liked beer,” another woman’s sign read, referring to Kavanuagh’s testimony before the Senate that he likes beer.

Large swaths of protesters on the Hill echoed alternating chants of, “I believe Christine Ford,” and “I believe Anita Hill,” the woman who accused Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment ahead of his confirmation hearing in 1991.

One of the women who accused Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct during his time at Yale University, Deborah Ramirez, said in a statement Saturday that the senators discussing the impending vote on the Senate floor brought her back to the moment of alleged misconduct.

“As I watch many of the Senators speak and vote on the floor of the Senate I feel like I’m right back at Yale where half the room is laughing and looking the other way. Only this time, instead of drunk college kids, it is U.S. Senators who are deliberately ignoring his behavior,” Ramirez said. “This is how victims are isolated and silenced.”

Ana Maria Archila — the woman who confronted Republican Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona in an elevator with her sexual assault account — told MSNBC’s Joy Reid on Saturday that Flake and Collins had failed their constituents.

“We deserve elected officials who understand that their role is primarily to govern by listening,” Archila said.

Ahead of the vote, President Trump tweeted that there were protesters among the crowd in favor of Kavanaugh, suggesting without evidence that some protesters against Kavanaugh had been paid to be there.

“Women for Kavanaugh, and many others who support this very good man, are gathering all over Capitol Hill in preparation for a 3-5 P.M. VOTE. It is a beautiful thing to see – and they are not paid professional protesters who are handed expensive signs. Big day for America!” Trump wrote.

One woman in favor of Kavanaugh, Annabelle Rutledge, told MSNBC that her heart went out to Ford and that she believed something traumatic happened to her, but added that Kavanaugh’s confirmation could not be stymied by “uncorroborated” allegations.

“She has the right to tell her story but she doesn’t have the right to start a smear camp when there’s no proof,” Rutledge said.

But Archila warned against assuming Kavanaugh’s confirmation was a done deal ahead of the vote, claiming that her 11th hour protest changed Flake’s mind just minutes before that vote.

“The vote has not happened yet … This is a moment we have to feel outrage, we have to feel our pain, and we have to find the power within,” she said. “This is a moment to organize. Not a moment to despair and sit back.”

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