Things That Matter

Here’s How People Are Coming Together To Support Brett Kavanaugh’s Accusers After They Came Forward

The United States has experienced a very emotional time during Supreme Court hearings for Brett Kavanaugh. Victims of sexual assault watched as Dr. Christine Blasey Ford went before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee to tell her story. Dr. Ford spoke calmly and consistently about how Supreme Court nominee Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her one summer in high school. All this just days after Deborah Ramirez’s account of Kavanaugh exposing himself to her in their first year at Yale University.

While the Republican majority Senate plans to vote Kavanaugh in as the next lifetime-long Supreme Court Justice, many Latino Senators have showed their support for Dr. Ford, alongside some celebrities. Here’s the highlight reel of what you missed at the hearing and the major players involved.

Disclaimer: the details of her assault can be triggering. Please proceed with caution.

“I am terrified. I am here because I believe it is my civic duty to tell you what happened to me while Brett Kavanaugh and I were in high school.”

CREDIT: @onespinal / Instagram

While three women have laid serious sexual assault claims against Kavanaugh, Dr. Ford is the only woman who has consented to go before the Senate in a nationally televised court setting to share her harrowing, intimate story.

Ford details the incident during which Kavanaugh and his friend, Mark Judge, shove her into a bedroom, pinned her to the bed and tried to rip off her clothes. She tried screaming for help, but he put the weight of his hand over her mouth.

“It was hard for me to breathe and I believed that Brett was going to accidentally kill me,” she said.

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham repeatedly dismissed Ford’s claims and then had an aoutburst of emotion defending Kavanaugh.

CREDIT: @NRO / Twitter

He didn’t even question Kavanaugh. He just railed on his defense and said, “To my Republican colleagues, if you vote no, you’re legitimizing the most despicable thing I have seen in my time in politics,” and that Ford was “just as much of a victim as you [Kavanaugh] are.”

Dr. Ford openly shared that she has no political motives and is putting herself at risk to share her story.

CREDIT: @THR / Twitter

Her and her family have been receiving death threats that have “rocked [her] to [her] core.”

“I have been accused of acting out of partisan political motives,” she said. “Those who say that do not know me. I am a fiercely independent person, and I am no one’s pawn. My motivation in coming forward was to provide the facts about how Mr. Kavanaugh’s actions have damaged my life, so that you can take that into serious consideration as you make your decision about how to proceed.”

Meanwhile, Kavanaugh crossed the line of indignation and appeared angry.

CREDIT: @tictoc / Twitter

“This confirmation process has become a national disgrace,” Kavanaugh said in his tearful and resentful opening statement. “The Constitution gives the Senate an important role in the confirmation process, but you have replaced advice and consent with search and destroy.”

When asked about his high school and college reputation of being a drunk and a partier, his actual soundbite was, “I liked beer. I still like beer. Do you like beer, Senator?”

Dr. Ford passed a polygraph test while Kavanaugh said they’re “not much use.”

CREDIT: @thehill / Twitter

At the end of the hearing, Senator Kamala Harris asked Kavanaugh if he would submit to a polygraph test. He said he would, but that it would be inadmissible. Just two years ago, Judge Kavanaugh wrote an opinion article that detailed how polygraph examinations are “an important law enforcement tool.”

Democratic Senators failed to ask about Deborah Ramirez’ claims against Kavanaugh.

CREDIT: @LifeNewsHQ / Twitter

Ramirez currently lives in Boulder Colorado, but was raised in a Catholic Puerto Rican household in Connecticut. Ramirez tells the The New Yorker that she was invited to a party as a Yale freshman where you sit in a circle and people pick who has to drink. She was targeted and quickly became so drunk, she was on the floor, “foggy and slurring her words.”

“I remember a penis being in front of my face.”

CREDIT: @prosemund4 / Twitter

Other students were laughing and telling her to “kiss it.” She was raised as a devout Catholic and was planning to only have sex within marriage. Then she remembers Brett pulling his pants up and laughing. Then, she heard someone yelling, “Brett Kavanaugh just put his penis in Debbie’s face.”

She remembers feeling mortified.

Both Ramirez and Ford are asking that the FBI reopen their investigation into Brett Kavanaugh.

CREDIT: @CNNPolitics / Twitter

The vetting process took place before any allegations were brought up. While these women will never forget what happened to them, up until very recently, we have lived in a culture of shame around being sexually assaulted. Rape culture blames the victim, doubts the victim, questions the victim’s memory and credibility.

READ MORE: Sen. Jeff Flake Called For An FBI Investigation Into Kavanaugh After Two Latinas Confronted Him With Their Stories.

More than 2,200 Yale women have signed a letter of support for Ms. Ramirez.

CREDIT: @dailycamera / Twitter

Someone paid for this banner to fly over Boulder, Colorado, where Ramirez lives, and where she hasn’t left her home since the story broke. Ramirez first started leaving pieces of paper on her trash that said, “no comment” and “no trespassing.”

Today, it reads, “Please demand an FBI investigation for Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and Debbie Ramirez’s claims.”

Several Republicans have made it known that sexual assault claims are non-partisan.

CREDIT: @ananavarro / Twitter

Including Ana Navarro, the famous Nicaraguan-born American Republican strategist and political commentator, who says, “Every American -every Senator- listening to Kavanaugh and Dr. Ford testimony today, should remember, this is not about ideology. It’s not about wanting or not wanting a Conservative on Court. That’s a different issue. This is about right & wrong. It’s about fitness of character.”

Our hearts grow bigger for these celebrities who are speaking out in support of Ford:

CREDIT: @hereisgina / Twitter

Gina Rodriguez put it simply, “I believe you.”

As Senators from both sides asked how Ford was so sure it was Kavanaugh, she replied in the way only a survivor and Ph.D in psychology could: “It’s just basic memory functions, and also just the level of norepinephrine and the epinephrine in the brain that sort of -as you know- encodes; that neurotransmitter encodes that trauma into the hippocampus. And so the trauma-related experience is kind of locked there while other details kind of drift.”

Eva Longoria joined other celebrities in a video PSA.

CREDIT: @evalongoria / Instagram

In the PSA, her along with Julie Michaels, America Ferrera, and many others all read aloud, “Dear Professor Ford, we know how difficult it is to stand up to powerful people. We want to thank you for publicly sharing your story of sexual violence. As members of the Senate determine whether Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh should serve as a Supreme Court Justice, this context is critical.

The behavior you described was wrong and runs directly counter to upholding the law and promoting justice. He should not be confirmed… We believe you.”

“One Day at a Time” star, Justina Machado points out the stark contrast between how we treat 17-year-old white boys and brown toddlers in America.

CREDIT: @justinamachado / Instagram

She retweeted Erika Andiola’s poignant truth, “In Trump’s America, a 17-year-old privileged, white teenage boy can’t be held accountable for sexually abusing teenage girls, but toddlers brought to America are detained, held in cages and expected to defend themselves in immigration court. Think about it.”

Sara Ramirez live tweeted the whole hearing process.

CREDIT: @sararamirez / Instagram

You know she was watching from her home and retweeting action plans and opinions about Kavanaugh’s emotional outbursts like, “He’s crying because his whiteness, his maleness, his PRIVILEGE, his ‘promised’ perfect future is being questioned, and society never prepared him for failure or for facing the consequences of his actions.”

Meanwhile, two of the four Latino Senators in office made their allegiances clear.

CREDIT: @SenatorMenendez / Twitter

Caption: “Searing. Powerful. Brave. The details of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony are heart-wrenching to hear. I hope every single Senator not only watches, but listens. Thank you Dr. Ford for your courage. #IBelieveChristineBlaseyFord”

Cuban-American Menendez called out the GOP for funneling their questions through an outside party prosecutor.

CREDIT: @SenatorMenendez / Twitter

Senator Menendez of New Jersey was sensitive to what this hearings meant for his constituents. He retweeted RAINN’s National Sexual Assault Hotline (800.656.HOPE) with this message:

“1.8 million survivors of sexual violence live in NJ, and watching or hearing about this testimony can be triggering. Survivors need to know, you are not alone. I encourage anyone seeking help to start here.”

Senator Catherine Cortez Masto is the other half of the Democratic Latinos in the Senate that supports Dr. Ford’s wish.

CREDIT: @SenCortezMasto / Twitter

Over and over again, senators asked Kavanaugh to ask the President and the FBI to investigate the claims to clear his name and allow the proceedings to go on. Several witnesses of the assaults of Dr. Ford, Ms. Ramirez and Ms. Swetnick have not been interviewed.

Swetnick’s attorney posted a statement that Swetnick witnessed Kavanaugh lining up outside a bedroom door where “numerous boys” were “waiting for their ‘turn’ with a girl inside the room.” Swetnick was raped at one of the parties and believed she was drugged.

Republican Marco Rubio previously supported Kavanaugh but now claims to have his hesitations.

CREDIT: @marcorubiofla / Instagram

Politico asked Marco Rubio if he maintains his yet vote and he wavered, “I want to see what happens in the hearing on Thursday. I can only vote based on the information before me.”

Rubio is notorious for saying what his constituents and Americans want to hear but votes with his party consistently.

Activists rallied outside Rubio’s office against Kavanaugh.

CREDIT: @womensmarch / Twitter

While protests have organized all around the country, it’s important for locals to show up to their Senator’s office, especially if they’re undecided. I mean, it is Rubio’s job to represent his constituents.

There is going to be a weeklong pause as the FBI opens a “limited” investigation into Dr. Ford’s allegations.

CREDIT: @americaferrera / Instagram

The results of the probe could change the outcome of the vote for Kavanaugh. Only time will tell.


READ: Lawsuit Alleges That Cristiano Ronaldo Raped A Woman In 2009 In Las Vegas

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Senior Border Patrol Officer Gets To Retire After Allegedly Kidnapping And Sexually Assaulting Another Agent

Things That Matter

Senior Border Patrol Officer Gets To Retire After Allegedly Kidnapping And Sexually Assaulting Another Agent

customsborder / Instagram

On July 10, former senior Border Patrol agent Gus Zamora, 51, was arrested in Tuscon for sexually assaulting a junior agent. Zamora’s wife is Gloria Chavez, one of the agency’s highest-ranked female officers. Three weeks after he was indicted by a Pima County grand jury, the agency took the only action it has thus far: it allowed him to retire from the agency three weeks after being arrested. Customs and Border Protection defended its actions by telling The New York Times, it “holds its employees accountable and expects the entire workforce to adhere to the agency’s standards of conduct.” Zamora attended a pretrial hearing at the Arizona Superior Court in Tucson. He pleaded not guilty.

The victim, identified as R.W. in court documents, told police that she looked up to Zamora as a mentor, given their ten-year age difference and his seniority. Over the years, R.W. had ignored some of his advances, asserting her desire to remain friends. The night of the assault, they met up for dinner and Zamora bought her so many tequila shots, video surveillance shows her falling to her knees as Zamora brought her back to his hotel room where he would later sexually assault her.

Before their dinner, Zamora texted her to ask if she “dressed up” for him, according to The New York Times.

Credit: customsborder / Instagram

According to The New York Times, Zamora bought them five rounds of tequila shots, and at one point, she moved away from him after he placed his hand on her left thigh. The Daily Mail reports that Zamora told investigators that he offered R.W. a ride home, to which she declined, saying she didn’t want to be alone. Zamora alleges that she initiated the sex. However, hotel surveillance footage shows Zamora holding R.W. up. At one point, she fell to her knees, according to police documents obtained by The New York Times. 

Those police documents detail how R.W. said she blacked out, only waking up a few times to find herself on the bed. She told police she didn’t feel like she had the capacity to give consent. The rape kit results have not been made public. 

A few days later, R.W. reported the crime to the police, who then recorded her follow-up call to Zamora.

Credit: customsborder / Instagram

According to The New York Times, the detective on the case recorded a phone call during which R.W. informed Zamora that the sex was non-consensual. The detective wrote, “he told her to not go there and that it wasn’t like that,” that sex “was never on his mind. They had too many shots,” The New York Times reports. Effectively, Zamora tried to call him out and he just deflected the blame onto both of them. 

When Zamora was eventually called in for an interview, a detective told Zamora that R.W. was in no state to offer consent, to which he “said that he knows, but he wasn’t in a state to consent either,” according to The New York Times

Women make up 5 percent of Border Patrol agents.

Credit: customsborder / Instagram

The female agents who do make up the force have voiced their outrage at the agency’s inaction around sexual assault accusations. “There’s not a single woman in the Border Patrol who has either not been sexually assaulted, outright raped or at the very least sexually harassed,” former Border Patrol agent Jenn Budd told The New York Times. Budd’s since become an immigrant rights activist, and urges women to reconsider joining the Border Patrol.

Two days before Zamora allegedly assaulted R.W., Tucson police arrested Border Patrol agent Steven Charles Holmes, 33, for sexually assaulting three women over seven years. 

The agency is already under immense criticism for its high rate of arrest charges brought against Border Patrol agents when compared to other law enforcement agencies.

Credit: @CBP / Twitter

In July 2019, Quartz reported that Border Patrol agents are arrested approximately five times as often as other law enforcement groups. With a budget of over $15 billion and over 60,000 employees, it’s the largest law enforcement agency in the United States. Many critics say the agency is not held to account for its unconstitutional means of coercing migrants to sign removal forms written in English, a language they often cannot understand. 

A Customs Border Patrol spokesperson told El Paso Times that its Office of Professional Responsibility “will review all the facts uncovered to ensure all allegations of misconduct … are thoroughly investigated for appropriate action by the agency.”

READ: US Border Patrol Sent This Man And His Child Back To Mexico And Hours Later They Were Thrown Into Trucks And Abducted

Hundreds Of Universities, Cities, And Businesses File Amicus Briefs Urging The Supreme Court To Defend DACA

Things That Matter

Hundreds Of Universities, Cities, And Businesses File Amicus Briefs Urging The Supreme Court To Defend DACA

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This week the Supreme Court went back into session, kicking off what’s expected to be one of the most divisive and controversial terms in recent history. Everything from LGBTQ and abortion rights, to yes, DACA, is on the docket, and America will get to see the impact of the addition of Trump-appointee Brett Kavanaugh.

Although judges are expected to be politically impartial, Kavanaugh’s contentious confirmation hearing after being accused of sexual assault, left him charging Democrats with unfairly going after his character.

Now, some experts are bracing for a possible “conservative revolution,” after the court overturned two precedents (a highly unusual move) last term, and President Donald Trump has successfully appointed 150 judges to lifetime seats on the bench (whoever told said your vote didn’t matter, lied.)

In its newly started session, the Supreme Court isn’t shying away from hot topic issues – including a decision that will decide the outcome of DACA once and for all.

President Donald Trump’s signature issue is immigration, and in November the court will consider his administration’s decision to phase out DACA, an Obama-era initiative that protects nearly 700,000 young undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children from deportation. The eventual ruling will have a major impact on way or another in the presidential race.

At issue before the justices is not the legality of the program, but how the administration decided to phase it out.

Plaintiffs, including the University of California, a handful of states and DACA recipients argue that the phase out violated the Administrative Procedure Act, a federal law that governs how agencies can establish regulations. Lower courts agreed and issued nationwide injunctions that allowed renewals in the program to continue. The Trump administration appealed the decision to the Supreme Court, and at the time, the President predicted success: “We want to be in the Supreme Court on DACA,” he said.

Groups of all kinds are filing so-called Amicus briefs to the Suprme Court urging them to protect DACA.

More than 100 different cities from across the country, dozens of major colleges and universities, and some of the country’s largest companies all joined together to defend DACA.

The brief filed by some 165 educational institutions said: “These extraordinary young people should be cherished and celebrated, so that they can achieve their dreams and contribute to the fullest for our country. Banishing them once more to immigration limbo — a predicament they had no part in creating — is not merely cruel, but irrational.”

Even the Mexican government filed a brief with the court.

Mexico has had little legal recourse in it’s fight against Trump’s cruel and (as many consider) illegal policies targeting the migrant community. And a large part of the migrant community (including those attacked at the El Paso Massacre) are Mexican nationals. So the government has been eager to take a stand.

And with the upcoming legal battle regarding DACA, Mexico has staked its position in support of DREAMers by filing an Amicus brief with the court. The brief points out the commitment to human rights and the principles of dignity that should be afforded to all humans – regardless of their migration status.

Meanwhile, children advocates point out that eliminating the program would also harm more than a quarter million US-born children.

More than three dozen child advocacy organizations say White House officials failed to account for a quarter of a million children born in the U.S. whose parents are protected by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program when they repealed it in 2017.

“These children are endangered not only by the actual detention and deportation of their parents, but also the looming fear of deportation,” the groups wrote in an amicus brief filed with the Supreme Court last week. “The imminent threat of losing DACA protection places children at risk of losing parental nurturance, as well as losing income, food security, housing, access to health care, educational opportunities, and the sense of safety and security that is the foundation of healthy child development.”

Children’s health experts have been sounding the alarm on the impact of toxic stress inflicted on children impacted by the Trump administration’s immigration agenda. Studies have linked toxic stress to developmental issues with children’s brains and bodies and an increase in their risk of disorders ranging from diabetes to depression, heart disease, cancer, addiction and premature death.

DACA was created by an Obama executive order in 2012, and the Trump Administration announced in September 2017 it was officially ending the program.

When the Trump administration officially announced the end of the DACA program in September 2017, there were nearly 800,000 young immigrants around the country who benefited from it.

Three lawsuits challenging the termination of DACA filed in California, the District of Columbia and New York eventually led to courts prohibiting the government from phasing out the immigration program. Those lawsuits argued that ending the DACA program violated the rights of those covered by its benefits and ran counter to a federal law governing administrative agencies, according to SCOTUSblog. The Supreme Court consolidated those three lawsuits and will hear arguments on the DACA case on Nov. 12.

The justices will consider whether the court even has the authority to review the Trump administration’s decision to end DACA and, if so, whether the decision to end DACA is legal.

Predictably, President Trump has urged the court to strike down DACA.

As recently as Wednesday, President Trump said his predecessor had no authority to initiate the DACA program in the first place, and that if the Supreme Court overturns it, as it should, Congress would likely find a legislative solution to allowing DACA recipients to remain in the U.S.

“The Republicans and Democrats will have a DEAL to let them stay in our Country, in very short order,” he tweeted Wednesday. “It would actually benefit DACA, and be done the right way!”