I attended the Senate Confirmation Hearing of Judge Brett Kavanaugh with a group of 60+ leaders from around the nation. Our singular goal was to converge on DC and pray for the nomination process. Little did I know I would stumble into some evidence of a long-held suspicion and ignite a national story on “paid protesters”. Here is how it happened.
How it began – Day 1
On September 4th, 2018 around 8:30 am ET some friends of mine – the Three Texas Dr’s – as they are now being called, witnessed cash being exchanged while standing in line for public tickets for day one of the confirmation hearing. They and many others saw organizers walking around the public ticket line with large manilla folders providing cash to people. They snapped a pic that I posted later that day. That afternoon I made a video telling this story. I followed up the video with some tweets which included the pic taken by my friends and some pics that I took of a notorious political activist. I compiled them all on my blog entitled Kavanaugh Hearing: Paid Speech.
I also captured a lengthy audio recording of the discussion I had with the protest organizer. More on that below.
That afternoon a few national media outlets picked up the story and the internet did its thing. A Reddit thread popped up on the topic and a handful of conservative websites posted about it. The video went viral and, as of this writing, has 100,000+ views.
Back At It – Day 2
The next day, Wednesday, September 5th, I went back to the public ticket line located here. I noticed the same organizer and protestor were back in the line, so I took their picture and posted it on Twitter. Later that night some investigative web users tracked down and identified the organizer in those photos.
The man handing money to the Kavanaugh hearing protester is Vinay Krishnan. Consultant/organizer at Center for Popular Democracy.
— Nick Monroe (@nickmon1112) September 6, 2018
But during the day on Wednesday, I began to notice that lots of people were speculating on the intentions of the protestors on my Twitter and YouTube feeds. We could see the effects of their disruption on TV as they repeatedly interrupted the hearing. But I began to wonder what the payments were all about? And who was this group, or groups behind this protest?
I decided to go out and speak with the organizer myself to find out exactly what they were doing.
I went back to the public ticket line mid-afternoon and approached the gentleman from the photos. I greeted him and the moment he saw me he hurried away. A woman sitting on the bench saw this and stepped in. She identified herself as Jennifer (Flynn Walker), the protest organizer from a group called Center for Popular Democracy. We had a very civil discussion about what they were doing and why.
I made an audio recording of this conversation and it is posted in its entirety below. I have also transcribed some key moments in the conversation and posted them below.
During our 12 minute discussion, a half dozen protestors gathered around and some participated. The gentleman in the photos did not. The protest leader confirmed her group was providing cash to protestors. She took issue with my use of the term “payment”, saying the provided cash was only to be used to pay the fines. I was unclear how she was able to enforce this vital distinction for her. But nonetheless, she, and the half dozen members surrounding us, all confirmed her group was giving cash to protestors.
She then asked if I was interested in knowing the source of her cash. She had good instincts! I didn’t even have to ask. I could sense her pride as she told an emotional story about how it was crowdsourced from donors across the nation. I asked if that was the only source of funding for this protest. I had no reason to doubt the truthfulness of her story. But I did doubt it was the only source of funds. She was quick to ask a clarifying question before answering, as her organization is funded with tens of millions of dollars from George Soros. A fact I’m sure she was familiar with. But she said very precisely, “That’s how we pay for the fines, yes.” And that was that.
Then today – September 6th 2018 – the public hearing attendees were not allowed back in the building without registering their ID’s with the Capitol Police and previously arrested protestors were not allowed back in.
Capital Police are now asking for an ID to get in to the #KavanaughForSCOTUS hearing. This is a change for today. Also, protestors previous arrested are not allowed in. Thank you @senjudiciary for that important protection.
— Adam W. Schindler (@AdamSchindler) September 6, 2018
But… What do you do if you’re a protestor who can’t protest because you’ve protested your way out of the protest? Well, a sit-in at the office of the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Senator Chuck Grassley from Iowa of course.
Sit in at senator Grassley’s office. https://t.co/lPwBwgUf3v
— Adam W. Schindler (@AdamSchindler) September 6, 2018
So that is the story of how this little “organic” protest popped up at the Senate Confirmation Hearing this week.
Civility & Responsibility
I do want to note and make a request from those who are following and reposting this.
Please conduct yourself with civility and responsibility. These protestors are doing what they think is right. I find it to be ideologically misguided at best and downright dangerous at worst. But they were all non-violent this week. Without exception that I could see. So please, do not use this information for violence of any kind. That especially includes your speech online. Conduct yourself in a manner worthy of the greatness of our nation and our American ideals which are under attack. You can not preserve this nation with hate, violent speech or bigotry on any side of an issue. You’re better than that. America is better than that.