The crudely-painted sign depicts a red, white and blue GOP elephant with his trunk up the skirt of a scared little girl and the word “Help!” coming from her mouth. In pink paint are the words, “Your vote matters.”
To Marion Stanford, the sign symbolized the Senate’s confirmation of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, despite multiple allegations of sexual misconduct in his past, and the backlash the Republican Party faces in the wake of the scandal.
To critics in the small town of Hamilton, it depicted pornography. Stanford told the Dallas Morning News that complaints to the police department resulted in the sign being confiscated Oct. 2.
“Here we have a political party that is using women,” Stanford told the Morning News. “I thought the sign represented what is going on now and we can’t just stand quiet. I wanted to tell people we could stop it with voting.”
One of Stanford’s biggest critics was Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller, who posted photos of the sign, along with other political signs in Stanford’s yard, on his Facebook page.
“This is in Hamilton, Texas, and is supposed to be Judge Kavanaugh’s young daughter,” Miller wrote about the sign. “Notice my opponent’s sign in the background. The Democrat sleaze knows NO bounds!”
Miller faces Democrat Kim Olson in the race for agriculture commissioner.
Stanford said the sign does not depict any specific person.
“That was not Judge Kavanaugh’s daughter,” she told the Morning News. “The cartoon was made last year by Washington Post cartoonist Ann Telnaes, a Pulitzer Prize winner.”
Telnaes drew the cartoon in December after President Donald Trump and the Republican National Committee endorsed Roy Moore, who was accused by multiple women of sexually assaulting them when they were minors, to represent Alabama in the U.S. Senate. Moore lost the race to Democrat Doug Jones.
Several people who saw Miller’s post reacted negatively to Stanford’s sign, calling it pornography and her a pedophile. She told the newspaper that she was harassed by phone and on her Facebook page, which is now private.
Stanford told The Washington Post that there was nothing pornographic about her statement.
“I know what the symbolism was,” she told the Post. “I know what my motivations were.”
Some people called for her arrest. One man questioned the lack of an arrest on the Hamilton Police Department’s Facebook page.
“From news reports, someone in town put up some child porn posting it on the street, and while the police seized the sign, they are not charging anyone for the child pornography,” the man wrote. “This most abominable of crimes is apparently ignored in Hamilton by police even when they know it's happening.”
Another commenter described the department as “Nazi-like” and said its officers don’t believe in free speech.
“The U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of free speech, especially political speech, means nothing to these goobers in a uniform,” the man wrote.
A Hamilton police officer did show up at her home, Stanford told the Post.
“It is pornography and you can’t display it,” Stanford said the officer told her. He gave her three options: take the sign down, refuse to remove it and get arrested or let him confiscate the sign.
She said she let him confiscate it.
Hamilton City Manager Pete Kampfer disputed Stanford’s version of what happened.
“It’s political season, and a citizen here placed a yard sign that featured a political animal taking an inappropriate position with a young child,” Kampfer told the Morning News. “A police member visited the owner’s home, and the owner asked the officer to take the sign.”
Stanford shared with the newspaper private Facebook messages between her and Miller. In them, she questioned whether she was really conversing with Miller and threatened to sue him because of the harassment she said his post about her sign stirred up.
“This is Sid,” he responded. “Bring it.”
A Miller campaign spokesman reiterated Miller’s position that the girl in the image -- which Stanford described as a “generic ladies room icon” -- was meant to represent Kavanaugh’s daughter.
“It was vulgar and disgusting and had no place in someone’s yard,” Todd Smith told the Morning News.
Miller’s political opponent also decried the image.
“Anyone who continues to share such an image that makes light of sexual assault is out of line and out of touch,” Olson said in a statement.
Lawyers for the University of Washington College Republicans group threatened Shultzy’s Bar and Grill in Seattle with a lawsuit Saturday if the bar denied the group service or the ability to host an event celebrating Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court.
Officials with the bar initially requested the group not hold its event there, prompting the legal threat.
KIRO-TV’s Deedee Sun looked into the issue and spoke with a constitutional expert who said the bar did nothing wrong.
A group of about 15 UW College Republicans ended up meeting at Shultzy’s to celebrate Kavanaugh’s confirmation with a “Beers 4 Brett” event.
“We're happy this is all over. We wanted to grab a beer – you know, kind of a little joke. We all know Brett Kavanaugh likes a beer,” said Chevy Swanson, the UW College Republicans president.
But before the gathering, officials with the bar commented on the Facebook event page, saying:
"Shultzy's is a sports-themed bar & grill that welcomes everyone. We do not promote or endorse any one religious or political viewpoint. As such, due to the political nature of your planned event, we request that you find another venue to celebrate."
Swanson said the club had no goals of causing any problems.
“So it's very disheartening just to see something like this would get shut down or be asked to shut down for not any good reason,” Swanson said.
Members of the club said the group Freedom X, which provides them legal representation, stepped in.
“He (the attorney) said in Seattle, that's illegal because political opinion, political ideology is a protected class like any other,” Swanson said.
The situation continued to play out on social media.
Officials with Freedom X cited the Seattle ordinance and threatened to take the bar to court, saying in part, "If denied service, Freedom X will sue to vindicate our clients' right."
KIRO consulted a constitutional law expert, Jeffery Needle, who said the bar did nothing wrong.
“They're free to request all they like. If the group says, 'Too bad, you're required to admit us,’ and the bar says, ‘Oh no, you cannot come in,’ then at least potentially this group could have a claim,” Needle said.
But he said hypothetically, if the bar denied all political events – be it Democrat, Republican or a "Save the Whales" event – then the bar would be in the clear.
“Then they're not treating one ideology different from any other ideology, and they're not violating the statute,” Needle said.
While UW College Republicans are celebrating, others around UW are not.
“Mostly some sadness paired with some anger, but I think what’s most frustrating to me is in the last two years, these kinds of decisions are totally expected, as sad as it is, and I know that within a month I’ll be more angry and sad about something else,” said Chelsea Barroero, who was passing Shultzy’s on Saturday.
Regarding the bar’s request for the UW College Republicans to not host their celebratory event there, even though the request was nonpartisan, Barroero said, “Go you, I would go have a beer there.”
Almost everywhere outside Seattle, businesses can deny service based on political beliefs.
“The First Amendment does not apply to private action. This would be a purely private bar exercising their own judgment on who they want to serve on the basis of political ideology, and they could do that under national law,” Needle said.
Shultzy’s officials didn’t want to comment on the situation.
While Sen. Susan Collins’ support for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh was a welcome relief for Republicans, her speech to the Senate on Friday apparently wasn’t.
Social media posters had a field day as the two Republicans seated behind the Maine senator -- Shelley Moore Capito, of West Virginia and Cindy Hyde-Smith, of Mississippi -- tried to stay alert during the speech. Both senators have expressed their support for Kavanaugh.
“Who are these two ladies behind Collins,” one Twitter user wrote. “They both look bored to tears.”
Some posters believed that placing the two women behind Collins was a symbolic gesture orchestrated by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Others speculated that Collins’ decision was already telegraphed, because it would be unlikely for her colleagues to sit behind her if she was going to oppose Kavanaugh.
Kavanaugh’s nomination has grown into a contentious battle since Christine Blasey Ford alleged that the judge sexually assaulted her during the 1980s when both attended high school in Maryland. Ford’s testimony led to a delay in the confirmation hearings.
“We live in a time of such great disunity, as the bitter fight over this nomination — both in the Senate and among the public — demonstrates,” Collins said Friday. “It is a case of people bearing extreme ill will towards those who disagree with them.”
Juan Romero, who as a teenage busboy was immortalized in photos depicting him cradling a dying Sen. Robert F. Kennedy moments after his 1968 assassination, has died.
Romero, 68, died Monday in Modesto, Calif., several days after suffering a heart attack, a friend told the Los Angeles Times. Romero’s niece and brother confirmed his death.
Romero was a 17-year-old busboy at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles on June 3, 1968, when he met Kennedy, who had ordered room service. The Mexico native told the Times in 1998 that Kennedy had shaken his hand firmly that night and had looked at him with respect.
“I remember walking out of that room feeling 10 feet tall, feeling like an American,” Romero said.
By the next night, Romero was cradling the head of the dying presidential candidate, who was gunned down in the hotel’s pantry moments after winning the California Democratic primary. The teen, who, like Kennedy, was Roman Catholic, pulled his own rosary beads from his pocket and placed them in Kennedy’s hand.
Kennedy died at a hospital early June 6, about 26 hours after being shot.
Romero recalled the hectic atmosphere of the hotel pantry for NPR’s StoryCorps in June, as the nation observed the 50th anniversary of Kennedy’s assassination. As aides led Kennedy through the kitchen following his victory speech in the nearby ballroom, Romero said he rushed to congratulate the senator.
“I remember extending my hand as far as I could, and then I remember him shaking my hand,” Romero told StoryCorps. “And as he let go, somebody shot him.”
The shooter, Sirhan Sirhan, a 24-year-old Palestinian immigrant, was tackled by bystanders, who pinned him against a steam table and wrestled his revolver away from him. Five other people were wounded in the shooting, but all of them survived.
Sirhan was later convicted of Kennedy’s murder and sentenced to life in prison.
As Sirhan was held down on the table nearby, Romero tended to the fallen Kennedy.
“I kneeled down to him and I could see his lips moving, so I put my ear next to his lips and I heard him say, ‘Is everybody OK?’” Romero said in June. “I said, ‘Yes, everybody’s OK.’ I put my hand between the cold concrete and his head just to make him comfortable.”
Listen to Romero recall Kennedy’s assassination on StoryCorps below.
Photos of that moment, shot by photographers from Life magazine and the Los Angeles Times, became the most iconic imagery of Kennedy’s assassination.
Romero said he could feel Kennedy’s blood, coming from a bullet wound behind Kennedy’s right ear, streaming through his fingers.
“I remember I had a rosary in my shirt pocket and I took it out, thinking that he would need it a lot more than me,” Romero said. “I wrapped it around his right hand and then they wheeled him away.”
The following morning, Romero went to school as usual. He tried to forget the horrific images from the night before, but a woman sitting near him on the bus recognized him from photos in the newspaper.
As she asked if that was him, Romero said, he looked down at his hands. His fingernails were still stained with the senator’s blood.
The assassination haunted Romero for the rest of his life. Initially, he said, he got letters thanking him for what he had done for Kennedy.
He also got angry letters blaming him for Kennedy’s death.
“One of them even went as far as to say that, ‘If he hadn’t stopped to shake your hand, the senator would have been alive,’ so I should be ashamed of myself for being so selfish,” Romero told StoryCorps.
Times columnist Steve Lopez, who spoke with Romero multiple times over the five decades since Kennedy’s death, wrote Wednesday that the infamy of that fateful night eventually got to him. He grew tired of Ambassador guests asking for his picture and moved to Wyoming, where he found work.
Lopez wrote that he once heard from Maria Shriver, former California first lady and Kennedy’s niece, after he wrote about Romero. Shriver wanted to send Romero a note thanking him for helping her uncle in his final moments of consciousness.
Upon learning of Romero’s death, Shriver told Lopez that she always felt empathy for him because he seemed to have such a hard time moving past Kennedy’s death.
“God bless him,” Shriver said, according to the Times. “It’s kind of hard to know why someone gets put into a situation that they’re locked in forever. But as I see it, he was locked into an image of helping someone.”
Romero ultimately ended up back in California, living in San Jose and working as a paver of roads and driveways, NPR reported. He went to Arlington National Cemetery in 2010 and visited Kennedy’s gravesite, where he said he asked the slain senator’s forgiveness for being unable to stop his killing.
To show Kennedy the same respect he’d shown him in 1968, he wore a suit, NPR reported.
“When I wore the suit and I stood in front of his grave, I felt a little bit like that first day that I met him,” Romero told StoryCorps. “I felt important. I felt American. And I felt good.”
President Donald Trump took shots at Al Franken during a rally in Rochester, Minnesota, on Thursday, mocking the former Democratic senator for “folding like a wet rag” and resigning after sexual misconduct allegations, The New York Times reported.
Trump’s speech at Rochester’s Mayo Civic Center drew a capacity crowd of 10,000, with nearly 2,000 more watching on giant screens outside, city officials told the Star Tribune.
The president mentioned Franken while referencing Tina Smith, who was appointed to Franken’s Senate seat after he resigned, the Times reported.
“Nobody knows who the hell she is,” Trump said. “She took a wacky guy’s place.
“He was wacky. Boy, did he fold up like a wet rag, huh? Man. Man. He was gone so fast -- “I don’t want to mention Al Franken’s name, OK, so I won’t mention.
“Oh, he did something,” Trump continued. “‘Oh, oh, oh, I resign, I quit.’”
Franken resigned in January after multiple allegations of sexual misconduct were raised, the Washington Post reported. A photo showed Franken appearing to grope the breasts of a journalist while on a USO tour in 2006, the newspaper reported.
A middle school social studies teacher in Roswell, Georgia, has drawn the interest of the FBI as the bureau investigates sexual assault allegations against U.S. Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh.
Christopher Garrett, 53, a resident of Avondale Estates and a teacher at Atlanta Academy, was interviewed by the FBI earlier this week, his lawyer confirmed to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Wednesday.
William J. Sullivan Jr., a partner at the Washington, D.C.-based law firm Pillsbury, Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP, represents Garrett and wrote in an email to the AJC that Garrett “voluntarily cooperated with the FBI inquiry, and has completed his interview.”
Garrett did not immediately respond to an email and phone call from the AJC on Wednesday.
Garrett could be a key figure in the FBI’s investigations into the allegations against Kavanaugh. Last week, he was mentioned several times in testimonies by Kavanaugh and his accuser, California professor Christine Blasey Ford.
According to Kavanaugh’s calendar, which was submitted to the Senate Judiciary Committee, Garrett is listed as attending the July 1, 1982, party in the Maryland suburbs outside of Washington, D.C., where Ford alleges that Kavanaugh sexually and physically assaulted her. Kavanaugh has denied those allegations.
Ford said that she “went out with” Garrett and he introduced her to Kavanaugh. Garrett attended Georgetown Prep with Kavanaugh and was also on the football team with him, according to the Washington Post. He is noted on Kavanaugh’s calendar many times, often under the alias of “Squi.”
According to the calendar, Kavanaugh and Garrett spent a lot of time together in 1982. They went to Washington Bullets and Baltimore Orioles games together, played basketball, went to Garrett’s beach house in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, saw Rocky III and went to St. Michael’s together, a small town on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.
Garrett, along with other alumni of Georgetown Prep, signed a July 9 letter of support for Kavanaugh. He lists that he is also a debate coach at Atlanta Academy and lives in Avondale Estates.
According to online property records, Garrett has lived in DeKalb County since 2000.
Atlanta Academy is a private school on Holcomb Woods Parkway in Roswell. Costs to attend the school range from $10,000 to $23,000 per student, per year. In 2017, it was named as a National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence.
In a Sept. 26 letter to U.S. senators Charles Grassley and Diane Feinstein, Sullivan wrote, “Mr. Garrett has no knowledge or information relating to (Ford’s) claims.”
The Texas attorney general has intervened in a 2017 lawsuit filed by a Houston teen who said she was expelled from school for refusing to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance.
Attorney General Ken Paxton last week filed a motion to intervene in the federal lawsuit filed by India Landry and her mother, Kizzy Landry. In the motion, Paxton defends a Texas law that requires students to stand and recite the pledge, unless excused from the “time-honored tradition” through written request from a parent or guardian.
“School children cannot unilaterally refuse to participate in the pledge,” Paxton said in a news release.
India Landry, now 18, argues in her October 2017 federal lawsuit that she sat out the reciting of the pledge approximately 200 times, with no consequences, while a student at other schools in the Cypress-Fairbank Independent School District. As a senior at Windfern High School, things changed, the lawsuit says.
India was sent to the office multiple times during the spring semester for failing to stand during the pledge, the lawsuit states. That fall, she was in Principal Martha Strother’s office on another matter when the pledge was recited over the intercom.
According to the lawsuit, when India again refused to stand, Strother told her, “Well, you’re kicked outta here.”
The lawsuit alleges that Assistant Principal Penny Irwin-Fitt called India’s mother and told her she had five minutes to pick her daughter up before police officers would escort the girl from the school.
The suit also alleges that the school secretary told India, “This is not the NFL.”
India told Houston news station KHOU that she, like the dozens of NFL players who have chosen to kneel during the national anthem, chose to sit out the pledge as part of a silent protest of police brutality against people of color.
“I don’t think that the flag is what it says it’s for, for liberty and justice and all that,” India told the news station. “It’s not obviously what’s going on in America today.”
The protest that got India kicked out of school came just days after President Donald Trump suggested NFL owners should fire players who kneel during the anthem, The Washington Post reported.
The NFL protests initiated by quarterback Colin Kaepernick launched similar protests in other arenas, including the nation’s schools. The protests quickly saw backlash from those who saw them as unpatriotic.
“Before this case, never one time did I hear of any school forcing kids to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance,” the Landrys attorney, Randall Kallinen, told the Post Wednesday. “Then, in two weeks, I had three calls.”
Paxton also cited patriotism as the reasoning for requiring the pledge to be recited each school day.
“Requiring the pledge to be recited at the start of every school day has the laudable result of fostering respect for our flag and a patriotic love of our country,” Paxton said in his news release. “This case is about providing for the saying of the Pledge of Allegiance while respecting the parental right to direct the education of children. The district court should uphold the education code and the right of parents to determine whether their children will recite the Pledge of Allegiance.”
The American Civil Liberties Union said last year that students have the right to refuse to recite the Pledge of Allegiance. That right comes from a 1943 case, West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, in which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that forcing students to recite the pledge -- and punishing them if they refuse -- violates the students’ First and Fourteenth Amendment rights.
The Landrys’ lawsuit states that school administrators refused to allow India to return to class until after KHOU reported on the controversy. Following the negative publicity, she was allowed to return to school and sit during the pledge as she had for years.
Several of her teachers did not allow her to make up assignments, however, which caused her grades to slip, the lawsuit says.
The lawyer representing the Landry family argues that the administrators’ actions violated India’s constitutional rights and that she was discriminated against based on her race. The lawsuit seeks unspecified compensatory damages.
It also seeks to have all Cypress-Fairbanks ISD employees trained in students’ right to choose whether to recite the pledge and to have any employee who interferes with that right disciplined.
One day after Christine Blasey Ford appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday, a full Senate vote on Brett Kavanaugh's nomination for Supreme Court was delayed for an FBI investigation, ordered by President Donald Trump.
Some critics say that because Blasey Ford can't remember certain details, she could be mistaken about others.
However, experts say memories of trauma are different because they can make some details, like time, location or even the month an attack happened, fade away.
It takes just a moment to find someone who has experienced sexual trauma, too.
They are mostly strangers, drawn to this rally outside the federal building on the edge of downtown Seattle because of the extraordinary sight of Blasey Ford speaking before the Judiciary Committee, alleging that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when they were both teenagers. Kavanaugh has denied the allegations.
"My abuse started when I was 4," said Judy Enriquez. "I finally came forth when I was in my 40s."
Enriquez spoke as the rally continued. For her, the highly charged, partisan environment was personal.
"When Sen. Grassley was making his introductory statement, I was watching her try to control her breathing," said Enriquez. "And I ended up absolutely in tears. It brought everything back to me, every single thing."
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in five women and one in 71 men reports having experienced rape in her or his lifetime. More than 42 percent of female rape survivors say they were assaulted before they turned 18.
Joyce Garrity devoted her professional life to learning about sexual trauma and counseling those who have lived through it.
"According to what we know about traumatic memory, it's more likely that her recall is accurate than it is that Kavanaugh's is," said Garrity. "Because it's stored in the different part of the brain. All of the cortisol and the frontal cortex activity that occurs during a trauma makes it impossible for it to fade."
Still, she says survivors often remember some details and forget others. And she can forgive Blasey Ford for not remembering every detail, like the time, the house she was in and how she got home.
"Absolutely," Garrity said. "Those weren't relevant details. The details that mattered to her were what occurred and if she could get herself out of danger."
In a setting like this, those lapses can be used to discredit a survivor's story.
"Well, in my experience with clients, there are lots of things they don't remember," said Seattle discrimination attorney Kay Frank. "But they remember the things that they're there to talk about."
Frank specialized for 30 years in workplace discrimination and sexual harassment. She has had to prepare clients to testify, much as Blasey Ford did Thursday morning.
"The best thing you can do to help somebody is to encourage them to tell the truth," she said. "To not to embellish. To say, 'I don't remember' if you don't remember. And to understand that it is going to be a difficult process. And it is possibly something they're not going to want to subject themselves to."
In fact, she says she tries to settle these cases to avoid her clients having to recount their experiences in a court of law.
But she says she feels it was necessary for Blasey Ford to tell her story so that it could be heard in her own words.
"Saturday Night Live" didn't hold back in its season premiere this week, taking several jabs at Brett Kavanaugh with the help of a surprise guest.
In the show's cold open – a parody of Thursday's dramatic Senate Judiciary Committee hearing – actor Matt Damon stepped in to play the beleaguered Supreme Court nominee, who has denied multiple allegations of sexual assault and misconduct.
"Let me tell you this: I'm gonna start at an 11," Damon's Kavanaugh, nostrils flared, shouted. "I'm gonna take it to a 15 real quick!"
He continued: "First of all, I showed this speech to almost no one – not my family, not my friends, not even PJ or Tobin or Squi. This is my speech. There are others like it, but this is mine! I wrote it myself last night while screaming into an empty bag of Doritos."
Damon as Kavanaugh called the allegations a "political con job perpetrated by the Clintons, George Soros, Kathy Griffin, the gay mafia and Mr. Ronan Sinatra."
The sketch also took aim at Kavanaugh's statements about drinking in high school, with multiple references to beer and sight-gags involving him chugging water.
"Now I'm usually an optimist – a 'the keg is half-full' kind of guy," Damon's Kavanaugh said. "But what I've seen from the monsters on this committee makes me want to puke – and not from beer."
>> Watch the complete sketch here (WARNING: Viewer discretion advised.)
As Christine Blasey Ford testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday, the woman who alleged sexual misconduct of a Supreme Court nominee 27 years ago watched with interest. Anita Hill, speaking to an audience of women technologists, said she believes that Brett Kavanaugh will be confirmed by the Senate, the Houston Chronicle reported.
Her message: Don’t retreat.
Hill was at the center of the Clarence Thomas confirmation fight in 1991, claiming she was sexually harassed by the Supreme Court nominee who was confirmed by the Senate. Friday, Hill praised the calm demeanor of Ford, the California professor who accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault when both were teenagers during a 1980s party. Hill also criticized the Senate Judiciary Committee in its efforts to confirm Kavanaugh as a Supreme Court justice, the Houston Chronicle reported.
“What I saw was them more concerned about their processes and their structure and their schedule than the human element of what was going on and what happened," Hill said.
Hill, now a law professor, had been booked to speak in Houston several months ago, but as it turned out, her speech Friday night came a day after Ford’s dramatic testimony in Washington, KHOU reported.
The Senate Judiciary Committee voted to advance Kavanaugh's nomination to the Senate but will wait for the conclusion of an FBI investigation before taking a vote.
"He will be confirmed," Hill said. "It will take the Supreme Court in a very, very conservative direction that will impact the work of diversity inclusion that all of us are doing."
Hill said she was struck by the emotional and angry tone taken by Kavanaugh, in contrast of what she called the “calm” testimony of Ford, KHOU reported.
Kavanaugh "was able to express a real anger, an aggression, as well as a lot of emotion," Hill said, adding that no woman nominated to the Supreme Court "would ever have the license to express (herself) in that way."
Hill said that even if Kavanaugh was confirmed, women should continue to make their voices heard, the Chronicle reported.
“I had a choice to make 27 years ago. I wanted to do nothing more than retreat back to my normal life and leave all of that behind and say nasty things about the U.S. Senate,” Hill said. “I did say nasty things about the U.S. Senate, but I did not retreat.”
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