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Woman Who Triggered Lockdown Known For 'Calm'

Courtesy of Amanda Vinicky

Yesterday's controversial override vote that increased taxes was delayed by about two hours when the capitol was put on lockdown, due to reports of a woman throwing or spilling an unknown substance near the governor’s office and other locations. Reporter Dusty Rhodes knows the woman, and spoke with a lobbyist who witnessed her detention.

The woman’s name has not been released, but she is well-known to several of us in the statehouse as an education advocate.

LetitiaDewith-Anderson is a lobbyist who says she has known the woman for a couple of years, and describes her as a calm, logical person who would never seek to harm another human being. So Dewith-Anderson was surprised to bump into the woman being escorted by police out of an elevator.

“I spoke with her and asked how she was doing and she said fine," Dewith-Anderson says, "and then I noticed that she was handcuffed. And she said everything was okay and for me not to worry.”

Dewith-Anderson figured her friend must have been praying, performing a so-called salt blessing before the vote.

“I was concerned for her," Dewith-Anderson said. "I don’t think anyone in the capitol building that actually knew this person was concerned whatsoever about our safety. We were more concerned about what was happening with her.”

The atmosphere at the capitol was unusually tense Thursday due to the scheduled vote. Representatives were poised to override Gov. Bruce Rauner's veto of a tax increase and spending plan, and some lawmakers — especially those who had broken with the Republican party to vote in favor of the tax increase — had received threatening messages for days.

The detained woman had told friends she was in favor of the override; they say she wouldn't have wanted to derail it.

A police team gathered material from the governor's office, but found nothing harmful.

The woman was released last night.


A spokesman for the Secretary of State said the investigation is ongoing, and results will be forwarded to Sangamon County State's Attorney John Milhiser to determine whether criminal charges are appropriate.

After a long career in newspapers (Dallas Observer, The Dallas Morning News, Anchorage Daily News, Illinois Times), Dusty returned to school to get a master's degree in multimedia journalism. She began work as Education Desk reporter at NPR Illinois in September 2014.
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