#CancelKavanaugh rally draws hundreds — and one Trump supporter



Mariano Laboy holds up banner supporting President Trump in front of #CancelKavanaugh protesters on Fifth Avenue. Photo: Brianna DeJesus-Banos.

One man stood out among a crowd of protesters opposing the Supreme Court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh. Mariano Laboy, a proud Trump supporter who says he’s in front of the Trump Tower three days a week, waved a large banner with the words “Re-elect Trump” and the slogan “Make America great again,” as he made his way through the crowd.

“I believe that something happened to Mrs. Ford, however, she made an accusation that is not corroborated by anyone,” he said. “Remember when she made the testimony she could not recall the date. The only thing she can remember is Brett, that’s it.”

The 74-year-old Laboy is from Puerto Rico and worked in New York City as a banker before retiring. He believes in President Trump —  and like many of the protesters who gathered on Thursday, he wanted to use his voice to speak out despite the resistance he knew he would encounter.

“Hey hey ho ho, Kavanaugh has got to go,” protesters chanted, drowning out Laboy as about 500 of them made their way up and down the street outside the building on Fifth Avenue on October 4th.

The New York City Democratic Socialists, the Socialist Alternatives and other organizations hosted the protest. “We’re representing the socialist relationship between feminism and the fight against capitalism because the two are kind of interlinked,” said Juliet Deparla, a member and representative of the Socialist Alternative, a national organization. “You can’t have capitalism without sexism. That’s what we believe. So, we want to fight against the system by uniting everyone together.”

Protesters circled in front of security guards and NYPD officers along the street, some of them first-timers, others finishing up a week of protest. “This is the third protest I’ve attended this week. I’m very concerned,” Robert Ayers said. “This is a man [Kavanaugh] who is clearly tuned into exactly the same Fox news conspiracy theory as this unfortunate man here,” he said pointing to Laboy.

“The future of our country is hanging in the balance,” said Ayers. “What we’re looking at here is a nominee for the Supreme Court of the U.S. who is clearly not qualified on moral or judicial grounds. It is clear he lied to the judiciary committee.”

Kavanaugh’s nomination was delayed for a week following the late September public hearing where he spoke after Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, who has accused him of sexual assault.

For Abigail Thomas, a sexual assault survivor, Kavanaugh’s nomination is a nightmare. Holding up a sign with the words “Believe women” and “Believe survivors,” Thomas feels it’s important to be proactive. “It’s been hard to have it in the news all the time,” said Thomas. “I’m a survivor myself and so I have a lot of emotions just reading about things.”

Thomas felt that Ford’s testimony was heroic, especially for those who have experienced sexual assault. “I have enormous respect for what Christine Ford is doing. I can’t imagine doing what she’s doing,” Thomas said. “I never tried to seek justice for myself because I didn’t think I would be believed.”

One in three women in the United States experiences sexual violence at some point in her life and 63% of those are not reported, according to statistics posted by the National Sexual Violence Resource Center. The #metoo movement, along with Ford’s testimony, has raised awareness of sexual assault crimes.

“We want to fight against the elitist people like Brett Kavanaugh who think they can abuse women and maintain that kind of status quo,” said Deparla, wearing red and black in solidarity with the movement.

Although Kavanaugh would go on to be confirmed, Deparla believes that protesters can continue to make a difference. “It’s the two young women who cornered Senator Flake and convinced him to change his vote that made a difference. It’s people’s voices that make much more a difference than anyone in Washington, person on TV, politician or media otherwise,” she said.

For people like Thomas, who have been personally affected by sexual violence, the protest itself is a healing process. “It’s really powerful,” Thomas said. “It’s rare that you can bring up the topic of sexual assault or rape with people you’re not close to and now there’s a space where that’s possible. It’s very validating that people are publicly being angry.”

Although Laboy felt very differently about the situation than the other protesters, he welcomed criticism and wished more people would openly have a conversation with him. “Let me tell you this, I love different opinions. I love to talk to people about what they say,” he said. “The thing I don’t like is when I talk to people and they spit on my face. That’s not right because we can have a complete conversation. We could have that dialogue.”