Campus News

Madison protestors join a nationwide movement in support of sexual assault survivors

Following Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s trial, protestors marched together to the Capitol to combat sexual assault and promote reproductive freedoms.

Image By: Michael Makowski and Michael Makowski

“We believe Christine Ford. We believe Anita Hill.”

These words punctured the chill of autumn as hundreds of determined protestors marched down Langdon Street to the beat of their own chants.

On Thursday, UW-Madison students and community members participated in the #CancelKavanaugh Walkout Against Sexual Assault in response to Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s trial.

The protest was part of a national call to action by the International Women’s Strike. People marched in solidarity with Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, Anita Hill and all other sexual violence survivors in cities ranging from Seattle to Washington D.C.

“It’s mind-boggling that more disruption is not happening,” said Sylvia Johnson, a member of the International Socialist Organization and vocal leader of the protest.

Multiple student groups, including Madison’s Socialist Alternative, Bell Magazine and PAVE, garnered the attention of students and led the movement on campus.

After assembling in Library Mall, Johnson led protestors as they marched down Langdon Street to the Capitol building. Leading organizers, like ISO, forefronted the march by holding a large banner advocating for reproductive rights.

Students leaned from balconies of fraternities and sororities, some cheering along with the crowd below and others watching in silence.

“We have to build a movement against sexual assault. This is a small step towards a bigger movement,” protestor Noah Calligan said during the march.

The start of the walkout brought some resistance from a counter-protestor who yelled from the sidelines. Protestors raised their voices and built a wall around him until he left.

“Shatter the silence. Stop the violence,” they chanted.

When the crowd reached the Capitol, a line of survivors formed on the steps to share their stories, speaking into a microphone before the captivated audience.

Survivors, both young and old, gave personal testimonies to which audience members responded “we believe you.”

A member of the Raging Grannies, a progressive singing group of elderly women, sang about justice just after a college student spoke about an assault that occurred minutes away from the Capitol.

Shouting at the windows of the Capitol, protestors targeted their demands at the legislators within.

“What Kavanaugh means is a lifetime appointment to create a right-wing majority on the supreme court,” Johnson said. “We believe that we have to act right now.”

Ford’s testimony of sexual assault against Kavanaugh has drawn national interest and has been a catalyst for feminist and pro-choice groups. But activist groups are not the only ones interested in the recent investigation, as Ford's story has resonated with many students.

“I watched the entire hearing,” student Aaron Gholston said. “Christine’s testimony was powerful and helped me reconsider and realize how women are affected by not just one, but a lifetime of incidents. I was truly disgusted while watching the trial.”

A final decision regarding Kavanaugh’s appointment will be made Saturday.

“I’m here because I won’t fucking be quiet,” student protestor Abby Lewis said.

Lauren Souza contributed to this report.

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