Following the verdict in the highly-publicized trial between actors Johnny Depp and Amber Heard, the founder of the #MeToo movement released a statement claiming that the ruling in favor of Depp would not “kill” the movement despite an overwhelming saying the opposite.
CNN reports that Tarana Burke, who claims to have first started the “Me Too” movement years before it went viral, described the movement as “very much alive” despite the verdict determining that Heard was in fact guilty of defaming Depp, her ex-husband.
Burke claimed that people keep trying to “kill” the MeToo movement “every few months,” but the hashtag “means something to millions and millions of folks.”
“You can’t kill us. We are beyond the hashtag. We are a movement,” Burke’s statement said in part. “The ‘me too’ movement isn’t dead. The system is dead.”
Depp and Heard divorced in 2017 after just two years of marriage, and Heard publicly accused Depp of physical and sexual abuse one year later. Depp eventually sued Heard for $50 million in damages over an op-ed that was published in the Washington Post and attributed to Heard, detailing her allegations. Depp claimed that these false claims resulted in him being unable to find further work in Hollywood, after he was essentially made into an outcast.
On Wednesday, the jury ruled in Depp’s favor, ordering Heard to pay $10 million in compensatory damages and another $5 million in punitive damages. The punitive damages were reduced to just $350,000 due to a Virginia state law imposing a limit on such damages. In Heard’s counterclaims of defamation against her, the jury determined that one of Depp’s lawyers had defamed her, ordering that Depp pay $2 million to Heard.
The trial has been widely seen as a turning point for the controversial MeToo movement, which demanded that any woman who made a claim of sexual assault or sexual harassment automatically be believed, with the burden of proof being placed on the accused men to prove their innocence. The movement led to numerous instances of women fabricating false allegations explicitly for the purpose of targeting certain political or other public figures for destruction.
As such, the jury’s verdict, as well as the widespread public support in favor of Depp throughout the trial, appeared to indicate a shift in public opinion against the notion that women must always be believed when making such accusations.