Governor, lawmakers stage walkout at Capitol steps, supporting Kavanaugh accusers

Gov. Kate Brown and House Majority Leader Jennifer Williamson stand in solidarity with victims of sexual assault on the Capitol steps on Monday, Sept. 24. (Salem Reporter/Aubrey Wieber)

Gov. Kate Brown and House Majority Leader Jennifer Williamson took to the Capitol steps Monday morning to publicly support Christine Blasey Ford and Deborah Ramirez, both of whom have alleged U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted them years ago.

“I believe that sexual assault survivors should be heard, and particularly that there should be an investigation in this particular case, now that there has been a second allegation,” Brown said in a later interview.

Brown and Williamson were joined by dozens of lawmakers, mostly women, to take a political stance on sexual assault, as part of the greater #MeToo movement. The walkout took place on the opening day of September’s Legislative Days, where lawmakers from throughout the state convene at the Capitol to prepare for the 2019 Legislature.

The walkout was silent and brief, lasting about four minutes.

Lawmakers take to the Capitol steps Monday, Sept. 24. (Salem Reporter/Aubrey Wieber)

On Sunday, Ramirez joined Blasey Ford in making public allegations against Kavanaugh, nominated by President Donald Trump to replace Anthony Kennedy on the high court. U.S. Senate Republicans were attempting to get Kavanaugh approved quickly so he could join the court when it opens its next session on Monday. Blasey Ford’s accusation, followed by Ramirez’s accusation, has thrown a wrench into that plan.

Brown said Kavanaugh should withdraw from consideration of the lifetime appointment.

“I think the U.S. Senate, if they decide to move forward, are doing a disservice to the American people and a disservice to the U.S. Supreme Court,” Brown said.

The two accusers are asking that the FBI investigate the allegations. Brown, surrounded by lawmakers holding signs, said she believe’s the alleged victims.

As the group walked out, Brown said she believes the two women leveling accusations against Brett Kavanaugh. (Salem Reporter/Aubrey Wieber)

In addition to the walkout, Brown released a video again condemning the alleged actions of Kavanaugh and calling on the U.S. Senate to allow a full investigation.


While opinions on the Kavanaugh allegations have become heavily partisan, sexual assault is not. Rep. Keith Ellison, R-Minn., is alleged to have abused his former girlfriend. Several women have accused President Bill Clinton of sexual assault or harassment.

When asked if she supports victims of alleged perpetrators regardless of political affiliation, Brown said specifics of each situation matter, referencing former Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., who she said did the right thing by vacating his seat.

“It certainly depends upon the circumstances, right? For example, Senator Franken stepped down. I think it just depends upon the circumstance, and what I think is most important is that sexual assault survivors understand that they are being heard, that there are safe places for them to go.”

Reporter Aubrey Wieber: [email protected] or 503-375-1251. He is with the Oregon Capital Bureau, a collaboration of the Pamplin Media Group, EO Media Group, and Salem Reporter.