‘Handmaids’ protest Roy Moore; Steve Bannon attacks Mitt Romney, Jeff Flake

Silent, heads bowed and dressed in scarlet robes, a group of women stood Tuesday as a symbolic protest to Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore.

The protestors were costumed as the handmaids characters inspired by the 1985 novel “The Handmaid’s Tale,” which was made into a TV series on Hulu this year. The women stood along U.S. 98 leading into the Oak Hollow Farm events venue just outside Fairhope. About seven others attempted entry into Moore’s rally with right-wing news giant Steve Bannon, but were asked to leave by security.

Moore faces Democrat Doug Jones during the Dec. 12 special election.

The so-called “Handmaid’s Resistance” took aim at a scandal that has erupted in the past month involving Moore and accusations that he sexually molested teenage girls. The former Alabama State Supreme Court chief justice has vehemently denied the accusations.

“Our hope for the ultimate message here is that people outside the state see that not everyone is backward here and that electing someone accused of multiple sexual improprieties and removed from the bench twice, is not fit to serve,” said Michele Harmon, 41, of Elberta, who spent the past three to four weeks organizing the protest.

“Women of Alabama, and across the country, we deserve to be treated better in the workplace and in life in general. And we stand with the women who have accused Roy Moore,” she said.

She also referenced Moore’s twice being ousted from the state bench, first for disobeying federal orders to remove a Ten Commandments monument from the state’s judicial building in Montgomery in 2003, and again for instructing probate judges in 2016 to withhold issuance of same-sex marriage licenses.

“This isn’t about politics,” Harmon said. “It’s about standing up for what’s right and decent in this country.”

‘Abused, mistreated’

The protest tracks a series of similar handmaids displays elsewhere in the U.S., most of which have been spurred by lawmakers seeking new anti-abortion restrictions.

The women’s outfits are inspired by The Handmaid’s Tale and its story of dystopia following a religious coup that gives rise to theocracy and which treats women as property. “These women were abused and mistreated and anywhere they went they were forced to walk in pairs and were only allowed to say limited things,” Harmon said about the tale’s themes. “It shows the worst-case scenario for our country and state should Roy Moore be elected.”

Indeed, national media attention to other handmaids protests have drawn parallels to the present political climate.

The handmaid protests began in March, when a group of costumed women sat silently in the Texas state Senate balcony – surrounded by armed police officers – to show opposition to limitations on abortion access.

From there, the protests spread to state capitols in Missouri, Ohio and New Hampshire. In late October, a handmaids protest lined the streets on the way to a Denver hotel where Vice President Mike Pence spoke.

“Folks have been picking up and running with it,” said Heather Busy, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice in Austin, Texas, who helped coordinate the first protest. “It is very visually impactful and I think that is why people are drawn to it. It’s the visual impact and the resurgence of the book’s popularity and the Hulu show coming out.”

She added, “They are creepy to witness. It kind of takes you aback.”

‘Homegrown’ protest

In Fairhope, the women dressed in the handmaid’s outfits noted that their protest was not, in any way, ¬†encouraged by the Jones’ Senate campaign.

Harmon also said the protesters weren’t paid, nor did they any of them come in from outside Alabama.

“Everything done by this protest are paid for out of our pockets … There are no outside agitators stirring the pot,” said Harmon. “This is homegrown. I’m a born and raised Alabama girl and I’ve had enough.”

Harmon said she was the victim of a sexual assault about 20 years ago. She said the women who have accused Moore of wrongdoing in recent weeks have inspired her because “their names have been drug through the mud and they have been called liars.”

Harmon said the women could be smeared again if Moore is elected.

“They were victimized once by Moore, a second time by an ugly campaign that personally and viciously attacked them,” she said. “If Moore wins, the accusers would be victimized a third time, by voters of Alabama who elected the man who committed this abuse, then denied it, then called the victims liars and frauds.”

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