WASHINGTON — University of Maryland senior Bailey Dinman’s button says, “Believe Dr. Christine Blasey Ford & Deborah Ramirez.”
The message on Liberty University freshman Christina Perez’s T-shirt: “Women for Kavanaugh.”
They were among the many young people who came to Capitol Hill Thursday to get a firsthand look at the historic hearing with Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and Ford, who accused him of sexual assault. Ramirez, another accuser, did not testify. Kavanaugh has denied all allegations against him.
Some of the young people came on field trips. Some skipped school.
They came to protest or catch a glimpse of the hearing, though many like Dinman and her friends ended up in the hallways of a Senate office building, clustered around cellphones to watch a live stream of the drama when they couldn’t squeeze into an overflow room. Still, they said, it was significant for them to be there.
“It’s really important to me that I’m present and I’m standing up and having my voice be heard,” said Dinman, 21, who traveled to Washington with six other classmates.
Dinman’s friend, Michelle Garda, 20, wiped away tears while watching Ford testify. If Kavanaugh is confirmed, she said, it puts the word out that, "Hey, you can do this” and still be successful.
But Perez, 18, who was among hundreds of Liberty University students who rode buses from Lynchburg, Virginia, for the hearing, said she believes the allegations against Kavanaugh are false.
“We just support everything about him and his cause and we know he’s a Christian,” she said.
Some seniors from Herndon High School in Virginia ditched their political science and honors government class and turned the outing to Capitol Hill into a field trip. They were disappointed they couldn’t get into the overflow room, but glad they make the trip.
“It’s a real historic moment today,’’ said Sam Krauss, 17.
Peri Shiavone, also 17, said it was worth the trip to see the buzz around the hearing.
“We’ve been keeping up a bit in class watching current events so we’ve been kind of following it,” she said.
When they couldn’t get in the overflow room, the students went in search of protesters and to find Senate offices, including that of California Democrat Sen. Kamala Harris, to line up future internships.
Protesters and spectators, including the students, were banned from the second floor of the office building where the hearing was held so many lined the steps leading to the floor. Others wandered the halls. Many lined up to get into the overflow room. Others set out for Senate offices to lobby their representatives.
Before the hearing, the University of Maryland students attended a march opposing Kavanaugh's nomination and later ran into a rally supporting him.
"People are allowed to have other opinions," Garda said. "Obviously, I don't agree."