Jamilah Nasheed

State Senator Jamilah Nasheed (D-St. Louis) rallied protesters in front of U.S. Senator Roy Blunt's office in Clayton on Tuesday, October 2 in opposition to the appointment of Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court nominee in light of several sexual assault allegations against him (which he denies).  

Activist Pastor Cori Bush has fought off two violent attempted rapes in her life – both started off as dates. Alderwoman Megan Ellyia Green was molested at age 3, but no one believed her after she came forward, Green said.

“We are not asking you to feel sorry; we are asking you to be compelled to move,” said Bush, a Ferguson frontliner who has run for both houses of Congress. “So then people won’t say, ‘Don’t ruin someone’s life for something that happened so long ago.’ But what about the victim’s life? We remember it at 40. We remember it at 60.”

This weekend a group of about 100 people – from elected officials to Ferguson frontliners – started organizing the #OccupyThe100 movement to urge U.S. senators and the country overall to oppose the U.S. Senate’s confirmation of U.S. Supreme Court justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh

They launched the campaign in front of Republican U.S. Senator Roy Blunt’s office in Clayton on Tuesday, October 2. They are urging Blunt to vote against confirming Kavanaugh. Blunt has not yet responded to The St. Louis American’s request for comment regarding the press conference.

Bush said they wanted to use St. Louis’ influence and experience in organizing to push the vote to a “no.”

“People do recognize St. Louis as a place where activists are, a place where movements happen, where things are shaken up,” Bush said. “The fact that we are going to give them the tools to do this, I think that will give people some comfort because they’ve seen us in actions.”

Groups in New York, Dallas, Houston and other places were watching St. Louis’ launch to see how it went, Bush said.

“It went amazing,” Bush said. “Now we are getting ready to set up the tents. We’re staying.”

For those who can’t physically sit-in or camp out, the group is encouraging people to occupy Blunt’s phone lines, email inbox, Twitter feed, and Facebook page.

While the press conference was going on outside, two women dropped a “Stop Kavanaugh #OccupyThe100 banner” inside the building from a second-story balcony. They were told to leave after several minutes, and they did so immediately.

State Rep. Stacey Newman (D-Clayton) said that Kavanaugh has shown that he will not be non-partisan after the way he slammed Democrats during the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee hearing last week. There, Stanford professor Christine Blasey Ford told the committee that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when they were both high school students more than 35 years ago. Kavanaugh denied the allegation. 

Kavanaugh has failed to release all his documents regarding his now multiple allegations of sexual assault, Newman said.

“We know that if Brett Kavanaugh is confirmed to the U.S. Supreme Court, there will be discrimination and we know exactly who will suffer,” Newman said.

State Sen. Jamilah Nasheed (D-St. Louis) told the 30 people standing behind her, “Thanks to every one of you for fighting for women’s rights.”

At that moment, a middle-aged, light-haired woman driving a convertible yelled expletives at the crowd, as she drove past on Hanley Road.

Victims of sexual abuse experience paranoia, post-traumatic stress disorder, flashbacks, anxiety and other symptoms that can continue throughout their lives, Bush said.

“We didn’t ask for any of that, but that’s what we walk with,” Bush said. “And people want us to push it away and get over it. It was just some type of sex you didn’t like. We say, ‘no.’ It was violence.”

Green said that women are told at a young age that even if they do tell, nothing will change.

“As an adult, I found myself in an abusive relationship and it took me years to tell anyone, because I had experienced that we don’t trust the experiences of sexual assault victims when they come forward,” Green said. “That’s why the confirmation of Judge Kavanaugh is so scary to many of survivors of sexual assault. His confirmation tells us that our stories don’t matter.”

Bush cited a statistic that six out of 1,000 rapists go to jail, leaving 994 to walk the streets.

“If a white, married blonde middle-aged woman from the suburbs with a Ph.D. gets treated and dismissed this way, what do black women get?” Bush said. “What do women of color get? What do children get? What do we have to look forward to?”

Bush urged people to get involved now, at whatever level they can.

“We have to make sure that we do this because it not only affects us, it affects our children’s children’s children,” Bush said. “This is a lifetime appointment. We need to make sure our voices are heard.”

Kander awes Missouri with courage 

Jason Kander – who ran a strong campaign against Blunt and barely lost in 2016, after honorable service as Missouri secretary of state and state representative for the 44th House District – shocked Missouri’s political community on Tuesday, October 2 when he announced he was getting out of the Kansas City mayor’s race to deal with his PTSD and depression. Kander is a U.S. Army veteran who served four months in Afghanistan as an intelligence officer 11 years ago.

“So many men and women who served our country did so much more than me and were in so much more danger than I was on my four-month tour. I can’t have PTSD, I told myself, because I didn’t earn it,” Kander wrote in a powerful commentary. “But, on some level, I knew something was deeply wrong, and that it hadn’t felt that way before my deployment. After 11 years of this, I finally took a step toward dealing with it, but I didn’t step far enough.”

He said he went online and filled out the VA forms, but left boxes unchecked to dodge his true symptoms. “I knew I needed help and yet I still stopped short. I was afraid of the stigma. I was thinking about what it could mean for my political future if someone found out,” he wrote. 

Last Tuesday, he wrote, though riding high as a mayoral candidate and successful author, he found himself on the phone with the VA’s Veterans Crisis Line – “tearfully conceding that, yes, I have had suicidal thoughts. And it wasn’t the first time.”

So he decided to drop out of the race, leave day-to-day operations of the organization he founded, Let America Vote, and focus on getting well.

“So after 11 years of trying to outrun depression and PTSD symptoms, I have finally concluded that it’s faster than me,” he wrote. “That I have to stop running, turn around, and confront it.”

Admiration for his candor and courage was unanimous. Even Blunt tweeted, “It’s important to talk about mental health like all other health. When people like former Secretary of State Kander are willing to do so, it moves the entire discussion in the right direction.”

Senator Kamala Harris endorses Kwame Raoul 

U.S. Senator Kamala D. Harris (D-CA) – a rising star in the Democratic Party and former California attorney general – endorsed Kwame Raoul, Democratic candidate for attorney general of Illinois and currently a state senator from Chicago. She said Raoul “is already a great leader in Illinois for commonsense sentencing reform, justice for the wrongly convicted, and programs that help juvenile and adult ex-offenders stay out of trouble. He’ll be able to accomplish even more as attorney general, and I can’t wait to see the innovations that come out of Illinois with Kwame as its top lawyer.”

New York also has a black Democratic nominee for attorney general, Letitia James, currently New York City’s public advocate, who must be eager for her own endorsement from Senator Harris.

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