Kavanaugh hearings captivate, divide Metro Detroiters

About two dozen members of Stop Trump Ann Arbor protested the Senate confirmation hearings of Brett Kavanaugh in downtown Detroit on Sept. 27, 2018.

Detroit — Many Metro Detroiters watched, listened and read updates as Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford's testimonies filled television and social media screens during Thursday's hearing before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee.  

The eight-hour hearing started with Ford testifying that Kavanaugh assaulted her while they were in high school three decades ago. Ford is one of three women who have accused Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct.

Kavanaugh has denied all the accusations, saying it was a smear ahead of a scheduled vote Friday by the committee on his nomination for a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court. 

The hearing, much of it contentious, exhibited the partisan divide among senators, and the response of local residents to the spectacle reflected that.

"I tuned in to both testimonies while I was at work and the questioning by the Arizona prosecutor sounded like an intense cross-examination once they brought up the polygraph test (taken by Ford)," said Carl Stanbads, 22, of Detroit. "It was frustrating because every time a Democrat came on, they were trying to calm her down after a Republican's questioning sounded like an interrogation, but they didn't do that to Kavanaugh."

Read more: Ford recounts ‘laughter’ in alleged Kavanaugh sexual attack

Many relied on broadcasts and tuned in periodically during the workday. 

"I watched Kavanaugh's testimony for a little and it sounded like he was whining about sports and beer," said Robert Roddy, 27, of Windsor. "I'm interested to see what happens. I don't think it'll be in her favor, but I'm going to follow up when I get home."

Sibi Majid of Farmington Hills said he feels confused over which side to support and there's a lot for the senators to consider in this case. 

"It's hard to prove these kinds of things that are just accusations," said Majid, 26. "But, how many allegations does it take to consider him guilty? Personally, I don't know which political way I identify, but it shouldn't be about that. I understand both arguments. Yes, there should be an FBI investigation because this seat lasts a lifetime, but do we do that with each nominee? That would be a waste of money."

Meanwhile, about two dozen people took to the streets to protest Kavanaugh's nomination outside the Federal Reserve Building downtown. 


Organized by Stop Trump Ann Arbor, the noon event was part of "a national day of action to stand in solidarity with Christine Blasey Ford and oppose Kavanaugh."

Protesters carried signs that read "Kava NO!" and "Investigate Kavanaugh #SupportSurvivors." Some of the women at the protest held up their palms, which had the words "I believe" written across them. 

The group planned to meet with representatives from the office of Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Lansing, on her opposition to Kavanaugh's nomination and encourage her to continue the fight against his confirmation.

"If Kavanaugh is put on the Supreme Court, and he might be, it would completely de-legitimize the Supreme Court," said Jessica Prozinski, a Stop Trump Ann Arbor member. "If he gets on the bench, it's going to be a complete joke." 

Martin Rayis, of Warren, said while reading recaps of the day's testimony at work, he noticed many are disregarding Ford's testimony because she waited years to come forward with her allegations. But Rayis said he feels Kavanaugh should be held to a more stringent standard of conduct. 

"This is a terrible situation," said Rayis, 21. "I don't care what administration this is a part of, it's someone who should be set to a higher standard when you're trying to be a longstanding political figure."

Emily Matuszczak, senior director of programs for Haven, a Pontiac-based nonprofit that runs a program for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault in Oakland County, said there are a lot of reasons victims put off coming forward.

"These include shame, fear of the repercussions and physical safety," she said. "They may be concerned with losing credibility or being branded a 'troublemaker.'

"Exploring the issue of why a sexual assault victim may delay reporting shifts our focus away from the real issue of perpetrator accountability and why these crimes occur in the first place," Matuszczak said. "As a society, we need to address how we can make the choice to sexually assault someone the more difficult one." 

Daisjona Whitson said she couldn't allow herself to be distracted from work Thursday to watch the hearing but her mind was already pre-set. 

"After they crucified Bill Cosby, (Kavanaugh) shouldn't be let go of this," said Whitson, 26, from Detroit. "I'm still trying to get over that, but I bet he won't be held based that these are allegations and this seems like another 'MeToo' case." 

Sydney Jones of Waterford said she couldn't bear to watch. 

"I saw a few tweets and stayed busy working because I know watching will just make me frustrated enough to throw something at the screen," said Jones, 48. "I remember Anita Hill's case well and know things haven't changed... we'll see." 

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