UC Berkeley community gathers to protest Brett Kavanaugh hearings

Sunny Shen/Staff

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It was a windy Friday on Sproul Plaza, and a group of students and community members huddled around a large quilt, hugging, crying, making patches and sharing stories.

The quilt was started Thursday by ASUC Senator Teddy Lake’s office in light of Christine Blasey Ford’s recent testimony against President Donald Trump’s nominee for Supreme Court, Brett Kavanaugh. About 200 passers-by stopped to linger, share a story or just hug a friend during the two days of demonstration.

The quilt puts individual traumas into one piece to showcase a web of support for sexual assault survivors on and off campus. The community patchwork comprises 80 to 90 handmade squares, each representing an anonymous and individual opinion.

Ford’s allegations of sexual assault against Kavanaugh came in light of his nomination to the Supreme Court as a replacement for former justice Anthony Kennedy. Ford emphasized that her motivation in coming forward was to provide information about Kavanaugh’s character and the impact he had on her life.

The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee called for an investigation into Kavanaugh’s sexual misconduct allegations. The FBI has about one week to re-examine Kavanaugh’s background.

“The past few days, I’ve been feeling pretty helpless,” Lake said.

Lake emphasized that when she first came to campus, political advocacy was accessible — she could call senators and protest for a change. But because Kavanaugh is running for a federally appointed position, she felt she could not have the same voice.

Lake thus wanted to take emphasis off of Kavanaugh and instead focus on what students and community members could do in light of difficulties in political advocacy. The quilt shifts the conversation “to the people who are hurting.”

The messages on the quilt range from “Because it’s heartbreaking not to be believed,” to “ ‘Boys will be boys’ is never a valid excuse.”

A particular square stands out to Lake — it reads, “My mom is the strongest person I know and she was telling the truth.” This message showcases the generational impact of sexual assault, according to Lake.

“While the messages are cathartic and healing, it is tragic to see how much of the community is affected,” said campus senior Alen Alhamdaputra, who was at the demonstration Friday.

Ford’s testimony was especially gripping because it was resonant with so many survivors on campus, Lake said. The quilt is meant to remind survivors of the people willing to stand on Sproul for two days in solidarity.

“It reminds people like me, who are privileged enough to not know that trauma, to be there for friends,” Lake said.

The patches of the quilt now need to be sewn together. It will be sent either to Ford or to a local domestic-violence or justice-oriented center that supports survivors, according to Lake.

“It’s hard to put into words how upsetting this whole process is,” said campus junior Jake Levy, who attended the demonstration Friday. “But it makes me happy to see students getting involved and trying to make this country a safer place.”

As masses conglomerated outside of the Supreme Court on Friday, so too did students at the quilt, expressing solidarity with the survivors of sexual assault.

Contact Alexandra Casey at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @acasey_dc.