Updated: Tuesday, October 2, 2018 at 2:20 a.m.
Nine women have been arrested for trespassing after staging a sit-in at U.S. Senator Joe Manchin’s campaign headquarters in Charleston. The group was demanding that Manchin pledge to vote against U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination -- based on allegations of sexual abuse waged against the judge.
The women sitting at Manchin’s campaign office were sharing their own stories of being targets of sexual violence and were collecting stories from others through an email address they created.
“What we asked for is a commitment that he vote no and we're willing to stay here until we get that -- or until we are removed,” Karan Ireland, of Charleston, said just before midnight.
Ireland was one of roughly a dozen women who had sat at Manchin’s office for more than 10 hours Monday into early Tuesday. She and eight other women were arrested by officers from the Charleston Police Department at Manchin’s campaign office, cited for trespassing and then released from custody. Those arrested were issued a court date of Nov. 8.
Charleston Police Department public information officer Lt. Autumn Davis confirmed the number of arrests but would not provide futher comment.
“People have been calling for weeks and can't get through to his office -- and, you know, we saw that clearly that's not enough to influence this decision -- and that's why we felt compelled to come here today and take this more serious action,” said Emily Comer, another protester arrested early Tuesday.
Kavanaugh’s confirmation process has been marred by allegations of sexual assault from at least three women -- most notably Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, who testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee last week. She said Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her while the two were in high school.
Since then, members of the U.S. Senate -- including Manchin -- have called for a week-long FBI investigation into the allegations against Kavanaugh. President Donald Trump ordered a background check. So far, Trump has not released the written scope of that inquiry, which would outline the FBI’s investigation.
Earlier Monday, Manchin released a short statement on the sit-in taking place at his campaign office, but didn't indicate how he planned to vote in regards to Kavanaugh.
"I will continue to listen to all West Virginians on the Supreme Court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh, and, just like all big issues, I will look at the facts and my decision will be based on the facts,” Manchin said in a statement from his campaign just before 4 p.m Monday.
"No man can understand the trauma that women experience from a sexual assault. My heart goes out to the brave survivors who have the courage to come forward and share their story," he added.
Supporters of the women staging the sit-in have brought pillows, blankets, food and other supplies, but were not allowed to hand them off before police arrived on the scene. Manchin’s campaign staff kept the door shut and locked. Campaign staff later blocked out windows to the office with campaign signs.
President Donald Trump was in West Virginia Saturday to stump for Manchin’s opponent, Republican state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey.
Asked whether she or any of the women staging the sit-in would vote for Morrisey if Manchin voted to approve Kavanaugh, Ireland said there is some disagreement among the group regarding what could play out on Election Day.
“I can't speak for everyone in the room. There people who have said they won't vote for [Manchin] on November 6 [if he votes to approve Kavanaugh]. I would be hard pressed to imagine that they would vote for Morrisey -- and we know how he would vote on Kavanaugh. I think that we may have differing opinions on that,” Ireland said, noting there is a consensus among them to support pro-women candidates in the future.
Comer said Manchin’s hold out on Kavanaugh would not push her to vote for Morrisey, but she can’t yet throw her support behind Manchin.
“I would never vote for Patrick Morrissey. But, Joe Manchin -- at this point -- has done nothing to support me as a working class woman,” Comer said. “He's done nothing to support me. Why should I support him in this election? He has a choice to make if he wants people to support him.”
After the arrests, Manchin’s campaign released a second statement on the sit-in.
“After working all day in Washington, Senator Manchin took time tonight to speak with the all of the protesters by phone and listen to their stories and views on Brett Kavanaugh,” the campaign said.
Manchin’s campaign stated he would make a decision on confirming Kavanaugh following the completion of the FBI investigation and acknowledged the presence of police on the scene.
“After a long discussion, the campaign asked the 11 protesters to leave the office. When the protesters would not leave, the police escorted them off of the property. We do not want anyone arrested and will continue to have civil conversations about Judge Kavanaugh's confirmation, but it’s now midnight and our staff has the right to be respected also,” Manchin’s campaign said.