Equal Rights Amendment supporters etched a trail of 'blood'...


SPRINGFIELD, Ill. -- Equal Rights Amendment supporters etched a trail of 'blood' across the Illinois Capitol to protest a Senate defeat of the ERA and were immediately jailed.

The ERA fell five votes short of the three-fifths majority needed for passage Friday.


Eight of nine women protesters, members of the Grass Roots Group of Second Class Citizens, were charged with criminal damage to state property of more than $500. A ninth woman was charged with obstructing justice for attempting to stop officers from arresting the others.

The women were handcuffed, carried from the Capitol and taken to Sangamon County Jail by Capitol police after they splashed the floors of the building with a red substance they said represented blood shed by women.

'It appears to be animal blood,' said Mike Walters, spokesman for Secretary of State Jim Edgar.

After the vote, the women shouted 'Senators remember, we vote in November' from the Senate gallery. They then left the gallery and squirted the substance at the entrances to the House, Senate and governor's office.

In front of Gov. James R. Thompson's office, they painted in red: 'Thompson remember.' The Republican governor called their actions 'vile.'


'It reminds me of painting swastikas on synagogues ... It's upsetting to people to see your name written in blood,' said Thompson, an ERA supporter who has been accused of not doing enough to help the cause.

Bond was set at $5,000 each. The women posted the required 10 percent and all were released by early today. Arraignment was set for Monday.

Edgar said he will ask the court to order the women jailed through the remainder of the legislative session, scheduled to end June 30, and to pay for damages. He said he has banned the women from the building in the meantime.

Sangamon County Circuit Judge Simon Friedman Wednesday held 12 members of the same group in contempt of court for breaking a court order restricting the group's demonstrations in the Capitol.

The order was issued after the women chained themselves together and blocked the entrance to the governor's office. The group has been evicted by Capitol police several times in the last month.

The 31-27 ERA defeat -- the second in the Senate in as many days - prompted Thompson to concede the proposal is dead in Illinois. The House rejected the amendment earlier this week.

But sponsor Sen. James Taylor, D-Chicago, said he may re-introduce the ERA if he can get a rules change lowering the voting requirement on federal amendments from a three-fifths vote to a simple majority -- 30 votes in the Senate.


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