SACRAMENTO — The state Legislature ground to a halt during today’s final session when a protester threw red liquid from the upstairs gallery onto the Senate floor while yelling, “That’s for the dead babies.”
A video of the incident posted by a Twitter user named @connectwithdeb shows a woman telling CHP officers “my menstrual blood is all over the Senate floor” before being detained. The account has videos of other anti-vaccine protests that took place Friday at the Capitol.
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California Highway Patrol officers cleared the floor and investigated the incident, which occurred around 5:15 p.m., surrounding the area with crime scene tape. A hazardous materials team was en route as senators voiced concerns that it was human blood.
Friday marks the final night of session as lawmakers face a deadline to send legislation to Gov. Gavin Newsom. Legislative leaders were still huddled in the office of Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins around 7 p.m. as floor sessions remained in a holding pattern, with a handful of significant bills still in play.
Lawmakers believe the activist was part of the anti-vaccine protests that have continued throughout the week after Newsom signed legislation Monday cracking down on medical vaccine exemptions. Anti-vaccine protesters have been a mainstay in the legislative galleries, holding U.S. flags upside down.
The liquid appeared to hit at least two legislators, including Sen. Melissa Hurtado (D-Sanger) and Sen. Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley). A splotch was also visible on Sen. Holly Mitchell’s (D-Los Angeles) desk.
Sen. Steve Glazer (D-Orinda) tweeted a picture of what appeared to be a menstrual cup with red liquid inside. He said that Hurtado, Skinner, Mitchell, Sen. Cathleen Galgiani (D-Stockton) and Sen. Susan Rubio (D-Baldwin Park) were hit by the liquid.
“I’m told a person has been arrested,” Glazer said on Twitter.
Atkins immediately called for a Democratic caucus.
“California’s legislative process, as well as our doors, should remain open to all who wish to observe or speak out on a variety of issues, but we cannot allow anyone to endanger others,” she said in a statement. “The behavior that occurred in the Senate Chamber is unacceptable and has been dealt with by Capitol law enforcement. We will continue to do the people’s important business.”
Lawmakers immediately condemned the action, with state Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) saying on Twitter that “These anti-vaxxers are engaging in criminal behavior.”
State Sen. Richard Pan (D-Sacramento), author of the main medical exemption bill, CA SB276 (19R), criticized the anti-vaccine movement. The incident came three weeks after he was shoved by an anti-vaccination protester, Kenneth Austin Bennett, near the Capitol.
“Like Mr. Bennett, this incident was incited by the violent rhetoric perpetuated by leaders of the antivaxx movement. As their rhetoric escalates, their incidents of violence does as well. This is an attack on the democratic process and it must be met with strong condemnation by everyone,” Pan said in a statement.
Jonathan Lockwood, executive director of Conscience Coalition, which opposed Pan’s bill, said of the incident, “Everyone opposed to SB 276 is disgusted and outraged.”
Mackenzie Mays contributed to this report.