SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) – A woman tossed a red liquid from the public gallery of the California Senate on Friday, splashing onto lawmakers and forcing them to finish their work in a committee room on the final day of the legislative session.
Senators had just finished taking a vote when a woman tossed the substance onto the floor of the Senate, declaring: “That’s for the dead babies.”
“A crime was committed today, but the Senate will not be deterred from completing the Senate’s business,” Senate President Pro Tempore Toni Atkins told lawmakers as the Senate reconvened.
A news release from Atkins’ office condemned the behavior as “unacceptable” and said it “has been dealt with by Capitol law enforcement.”
Representatives from the California Highway Patrol have not commented. But Senate Republican Leader Shannon Grove indicated police have arrested the woman.
“The person that is in question should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law and I support the CHP officers that have her in custody right now,” Grove said.
The drama unfolded on the final day of the Legislative session, with lawmakers still having several key bills to debate before adjourning for the year. With authorities still investigating what the substance was, Senate leadership decided lawmakers would finish their work in a smaller committee room. Legislative aides scrambled to move the Senate’s work to the room as journalists and others watched from an upstairs balcony.
It’s unclear who the woman was or what she was protesting. But hundreds of people had packed the state Capitol for weeks protesting a bill that seeks to crack down on fraudulent medical exemptions for vaccinations. Several sought to link the woman to the protesters, including Sen. Richard Pan, who last month was shoved in the back by a protester as he was walking near the Capitol.
“This incident was incited by the violent rhetoric perpetuated by leaders of the antivaxx movement,” Pan said in a news release. “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.”
Democratic Sen. Steve Glazer said the liquid landed on his head. He also said five other senators were struck by the liquid.
“I’m going to take a shower,” Glazer told reporters crowded in the hallway outside the Senate chambers. “We have work to do.”