Protesters urge ‘no’ vote on Kavanaugh

Staff Writer

MANCHESTER – “Hey, hey, ho, ho, Kavanaugh has got to go,” was a popular chant by several protesters gathered outside Saint Anselm College’s New Hampshire Institute of Politics on Monday.

“Believe women,” they added.

The protesters hoped to convince U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., to vote against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh when his nomination reaches the Senate floor as soon as later this week. Flake was inside Saint Anselm College’s New Hampshire Institute of Politics Monday delivering his second speech of the year at the campus. His visit was scheduled prior to Flake’s vote Friday, when he advoated to advance Kavanaugh’s nomination from the Senate Judiciary Committee. However, Flake said he would only agree to final confirmation before the full Senate if the FBI investigates Christine Blasey Ford’s claims she was sexually assaulted by Kavanaugh.

Derry resident Nancy Francis said she was outside Monday’s venue because she wants to make a change for the future. Francis, who has attended other political events, such as the Women’s March in Washington, D.C., emphasized the importance of physically standing up for that in which one believes.

“We need to stand and say, ‘This is what I believe and I’m not going anywhere.’ Be the change,” Francis said.

Among those attempting to make a change is New Hampshire is state Rep. Amelia Keane, D-Nashua. She said she is the victim of a sexual assault.

“I hope that we use our New Hampshire voices on a national platform. I hope that Sen. Jeff Flake sees that we will watch what he’s doing. We won’t forget the actions he’s taking and that we in New Hampshire are going to hold him accountable,” Keane said.

Kathy Staub, an organizer with the group Rights and Democracy New Hampshire, said it is important to speak out about such matters.

“It’s important to let people know what you’re thinking, letting them know they aren’t alone,” Staub said, noting she has learned a lot from those around her who are speaking out. “They say 1 in 4 women have been victim of sexual violence. But we keep looking the other way.”

Amy McCall, an organizer of the #Fight4HER campaign, said women who have come forward to share their stories show they do not suffer alone.

“Continue your fighting and activism. That’s the only way we are going to change anything,” McCall said.

Along with this, McCall said involvement in politics is vital.

“A lot of people think that politics don’t affect them, yet every single part of our lives is controlled by politics,” McCall said. “We need to be involved because we are handing over the keys of our lives saying, ‘Here, stranger, drive the car for me,’ and no one wants that.”

Leah Stagnone, a senior at Saint Anselm College, attended the rally in support of those victimized by sexual assault.

“I think it is important that we stop normalizing sexual assault,” Stagnone said. “I think, for a lot of people, it is re-traumatizing to witness how allegations are responded to.”

Standing next to Stagnone was Molly Benson, who also is a senior at Saint Anselm and attended the rally to show support for sexual assault survivors.

“It sends a message,” Benson said, “that if sexual assault isn’t welcome on this campus, it shouldn’t be welcome anywhere.”

Benson said she believes such rallies will promote change with the voting class, and more than anything, she said rallying creates a strong community in which it is safe to come forward about sexual

violence.