The last time Grace Bucklin toured Washington D.C., it was from the backseat of a police van with wrists bound together by cable ties.
But instead of buying a ticket, she shouted “Kavanaugh hates women” until U.S. Capitol Police dragged her from the Senate hearing room.
A feminist, activist and sophomore at Augustana University, Bucklin was one of the 227 women arrested last week for protesting Brett Kavanaugh, President Donald Trump’s nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court.
“[Kavanaugh’s] nomination is a direct threat to women’s rights and environmental rights,” Bucklin said. “We really wanted to make a strong stand in Washington to show our legislators that we care, and that we’re watching.”
According to an article published by USA Today, Kavanaugh has praised Chief Justice William Rehnquist’s dissent on Roe v. Wade, which has many pro-choice advocates on edge.
In addition, Kavanaugh has written that Congress should protect presidents from criminal investigation and personal civil suits, another case for those like Bucklin who are concerned with the Trump administration.
A strong pro-choice advocate, Bucklin works with the South Dakota branch of NARAL Pro-Choice, a national organization that advocates for the reproductive rights of women, including access to abortion, birth control and paid family leave.
She traveled with fellow NARAL members Tiffany Campbell and Annie Right to speak with senators about the threat they feel Kavanaugh poses to their cause. Historically, the nominee has expressed conservative views on abortion, gun laws and health care according to an article published by USA Today.
“I see abortion as a very necessary tool within society for women to be economically and socially empowered,” Bucklin said. “I believe that women should always have the right to choose when they become a mother.”
Charged with a class two misdemeanor for disorderly conduct and held on a $35 bail charge, Bucklin said that her arrest allowed Campbell to tell the story of how an abortion saved her 12-year-old son’s life.
Campbell’s pregnancy suffered twin-twin transfusion syndrome, a condition that can lead to heart failure for both embryos early in the pregnancy.
Campbell said her decision to abort one child was pro-life, as it saved the other.
“There are many qualities of a great activist, but Grace has proven she will not back away or give up when it gets tough,” Campbell said. “She is not afraid to speak publicly.”
After the arrest, Capitol police held Bucklin and Campbell in a garage away from the Capitol for two hours then released them with six other protesters including Bob Bland, an organizer of the first Women’s March in 2017.
Bucklin said she did not know where the garage was located.
“The mood was beautiful and powerful,” Bucklin said. “We’re angry, but we’re also very compassionate human beings who can come together and be civil with our senators, as we truly do want action.”
Bucklin has been active in the political realm since high school volunteering for local campaigns, organizing the Sioux Falls March for Dreamers in 2017 and volunteering on the Black Mesa Navajo Reservation in Arizona.
Recently, Bucklin has focused her efforts on resistance, working with NARAL and canvassing for Toni Miller in her campaign for South Dakota’s District 9 House of Representatives seat.
Despite the political divide in the country, Bucklin said that she still believes the political system will produce gender, racial and economic equality.
“I’ve experienced harassment and discrimination,” Bucklin said. “I’ve been assaulted, abused. There are other women experiencing the exact same things that I have, that my mom did.”
“We’ve felt this persecution since the beginnings of America, and I feel like we’re evolved enough as a society where there’s still hope. We can still have equality.”