Chants of 'We believe survivors!' echoed as Cruz exited.
When Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) was spotted at a restaurant in Washington, D.C., locals used their First Amendment rights to make sure he knew how they felt about the prospect of putting an alleged sexual predator on the Supreme Court.
A crowd gathered around Cruz and began chanting "We believe survivors!" as one woman explained to Cruz and his wife, Heidi Cruz, why Brett Kavanaugh's nomination is a problem for sexual assault survivors.
"I am a survivor of sexual assault," the woman said. "There are now three people who have come forward and who have said that Brett Kavanaugh has attacked them. I know that you're close friends with him. Could you talk to him about that? ... How are you going to vote, sir?"
Cruz ignored the survivor's questions, and left the restaurant with his wife as the crowd continued to chant after them.
Cruz is a longtime friend of Kavanaugh, who has so far been accused of sexual assault by two women who have given their names publicly. A third as-yet-unnamed woman, represented by Stormy Daniels attorney Michael Avenatti, is reportedly preparing to speak out against Kavanaugh this week.
Cruz also sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is in charge of thoroughly vetting Kavanaugh before recommending to the full Senate whether to confirm him. But many Republicans on the committee have already made clear that they do not believe survivors' stories about Kavanaugh — and some Republicans are even openly mocking the women.
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One demonstrator at the restaurant also yelled, "Beto is way hotter than you!" — a reference to Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-TX), who is challenging Cruz for his Senate seat this year.
O'Rourke tweeted his disapproval of the protest on Tuesday. "Not right that Senator Cruz and his wife Heidi were surrounded and forced to leave a restaurant last night because of protesters," he wrote. "The Cruz family should be treated with respect."
Women and men across the nation are standing up for survivors of sexual assault and rape, often using the hashtag #BelieveSurvivors.
The first to come forward with details about Kavanaugh was Dr. Christine Blasey Ford. She claims Kavanaugh pinned her down, tried to forcibly remove her clothes, and covered her mouth so no one could hear her scream at a house party when the two were in high school.
Ford will testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday about her allegations.
The hearing is largely a sham, however, since Republicans are refusing to call other witnesses who were allegedly present when Kavanaugh attacked Ford. Republicans have also rebuffed Ford's requests to have the FBI investigate her allegations.
A second woman, Deborah Ramirez, also came forward to the New Yorker. She alleges that while in college, Kavanaugh dropped his pants and put his penis in her face at a college party, while others egged him on.
GOP staffers on the Judiciary Committee reportedly knew about Ramirez's allegations — and Republicans on the committee pushed to expedite Kavanaugh's confirmation vote afterwards.
Cruz is a staunch conservative who called Kavanaugh "one of the most respected federal judges in the country" in July, before the sexual assault allegations came to light.
In a recent debate with O'Rourke, Cruz said Ford's allegations are "serious" and "deserve to be treated with respect."
Cruz fleeing a restaurant reminds many of when White House press secretary Sarah Sanders was asked to leave a Virginia restaurant in the midst of the Trump administration ripping immigrant families apart at the border.
At the time, NPR's Scott Simon wrote these words, which ring true in the context of patrons chanting at Cruz.
It might have been more polite or politically effective for protesters or restaurant staff to just let the Trump administration officials eat in peace, then approach them to say, "We profoundly disagree with what you've done."
But I understand how people who see public figures they hold responsible for what they find a reprehensible policy that tears apart lives will decide they just can't walk past what may be their one chance to say something directly to people in power. In words from Hamilton, they're "not throwing away" their shot.
Alleged sexual predators don't belong on the Supreme Court, and Americans around the country are making sure senators hear their voices loud and clear.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.