An anti-vaccine activist who traveled to the Capitol to demonstrate on the final day of the legislative year threw a menstrual cup with blood at state senators on Friday afternoon, splashing several lawmakers and forcing the lawmakers to finish session in a nearby hearing room.
The woman was among several protesters watching the waning hours of the legislative session for year from the upstairs balcony in the Senate at 5:14 p.m., when she hurled what the California Highway Patrol called “a feminine hygiene device containing what appeared to be blood” at several lawmakers. “That’s for the dead babies,” she yelled.
Rebecca Lee Dalelio, 43, was arrested on suspicion of felony vandalism, misdemeanor battery and four other counts related to disrupting official state business. She posted $10,000 bond and was released from the Sacramento County Main Jail on Saturday morning, according to sheriff’s department records.
Officers said that after the incident, Dalelio walked out of the gallery and did not resist arrest. A video posted on Periscope showed Dalelio, dressed in black, shouting dead babies’ “blood is on your hands” as she was handcuffed and led away. The CHP did not speculate on her motives in a news release, describing her only as a “demonstrator,” but officers did tell reporters late Friday the substance was blood.
Public records indicate Dalelio lives in Boulder Creek, a town in the hills north of Santa Cruz. Her Facebook profile contains several anti-vaccine posts, and screenshots provided to The Sacramento Bee show she’s long fought against state Sen. Richard Pan’s efforts to crack down on vaccinations.
“Becky has always been outspoken, and she was always one to express her opinion,” said her father, Henry Dalelio.
Dalelio comes from a family of 11 children, including MMA fighter Sarah D’Alelio. Dalelio herself has seven children, her father said, including a set of triplets.
Dalelio’s motive remains unknown, but her father described her as conservative, and against abortions and vaccines. Some demonstrators say they believe she was protesting SB 24, which would allow abortion pills at California college campuses as an on-campus medical service.
The Bee made several attempts to reach Dalelio.
Several lawmakers linked the woman to the anti-vaccine protesters, including Sen. Richard Pan, who last month was shoved in the back by a protester as he was walking from the Capitol to lunch.
“This incident was incited by the violent rhetoric perpetuated by leaders of the anti-vaxx 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.”
“A few minutes ago, the anti-vaxxer stalkers – who’ve engaged in a harassment campaign all week – dropped a red substance onto the Senate floor from the elevated public gallery, dousing several of my colleagues,” state Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, wrote on Twitter. “These anti-vaxxers are engaging in criminal behavior. They’ve now repeatedly assaulted senators and are engaging in harassing and intimidating behavior every single day, as we try to do the people’s work. They’re a cancer on the body politic and are attacking democracy.”
Sen. Steve Glazer, D-Orinda, said he and five other senators, including Sens. Cathleen Galgiani, D-Stockton, and Melissa Hurtado, D-Sanger, were hit by the liquid.
Authorities quickly evacuated the chamber and began investigating the substance, while some lawmakers went home briefly to shower. Security was beefed up in the Assembly, which also was in session on Friday and had worked through multiple interruptions from anti-vaccine demonstrators during the week.
The Senate reconvened three hours later in a large committee room, the first time they had been displaced since a trucker crashed his tractor-trailer into the south steps of the state Capitol in January 2001.
“A crime was committed today, but the Senate will not be deterred from completing the Senate’s business,” Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins, D-San Diego said as the Senate reconvened.
Senate Minority Leader Shannon Grove, R-Bakersfield, condemned the act and apologized to her colleagues for the disruption as the session resumed in the hearing room, adding the suspect should be “prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.” She and her Republican colleagues had opposed the vaccine bills.
The CHP said lawmakers and their staff had been warned to anticipate large crowds as the legislative year drew to a close. Later, the agency’s Capitol Protection Section said its officers continuously seek to ensure demonstrators can “exercise their First Amendment rights while not interfering with the daily operations of the State Capitol or the safety of the occupants on state property.”
Anti-vaccination activists around the Capitol quickly distanced themselves from Dalelio, saying the group shouldn’t be held responsible for one person’s action, and challenging whether she was was protesting vaccinations.
“We strongly denounce this, it goes far beyond crossing a line,” said Jonathan Lockwood, executive director of Conscience Coalition, the group packed the anti-vaccine protesters in Capitol’s halls in protest of two vaccine bills that were signed into law earlier this week.
Senate Bill 276 and SB 714, which were quickly signed by Newsom after their passage Monday, will increase oversight of the vaccine medical exemption system in California by requiring doctors to submit a standard form to be submitted to the state Department of Public Health. If they issue more than five exemptions in a year, public health officials will have the authority to review the passes. Schools that fall below a 95 percent vaccination rate will also trigger a red flag.
The measures become law Jan. 1.
Opponents spent much of the year organizing protests at the Capitol, arguing that vaccines are not universally safe and that the law would infringe on the patient-doctor relationship.
Proponents of the bill, however, said it would ensure kids who are too sick or young to get the shots are safe at school and in the community because their peers would be up to date on their shots against preventable diseases.
The Senate, meanwhile, worked until just after 3 a.m. to finish its business for the year, as senators crowded into the audience seats of the Senate’s largest hearing room while using paper printouts to pass legislation.
“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,” Atkins said. “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.”
Dalelio is scheduled to appear in court Tuesday afternoon.