'She doesn't care': Dolton residents locked out of Village Hall amid Mayor Tiffany Henyard controversy

The old saying goes that you can’t fight City Hall. But in south suburban Dolton, residents say they can’t even get into their own City Hall.

That comes after some residents were locked out of a village board meeting Monday night. Dolton officials are blaming safety concerns, but residents are pointing the finger at embattled Mayor Tiffany Henyard.

Dolton resident Cheryl Hill used her cellphone to document what happened when she tried to get some paperwork at Dolton’s Village Hall last week.

"What do you mean people can’t come in? Why can’t people come in?" Hill is heard saying on the video while a Dolton official stands on the other side of a locked door. "This is a government building. I know you all know this is a government building, right?"

New security procedures went into effect on Tuesday last week. The village says they’re in response to threats against controversial Mayor Henyard and village employees.

It used to be that Dolton residents who needed to take care of a bill or a license perhaps would walk into the entrance through the front door into a common area where service desks are located. But now, that door is locked, forcing residents to talk to a security guard behind a window in the vestibule, and conduct their business in that small cramped area.

Dolton resident Mary Avent said citizens are becoming frustrated by being locked out.

"Young lady showed up here this morning, went in and was totally upset," Avent said. "She had no idea she can’t go into the building, just the foyer. Had to do her paperwork standing outside in the rain."


Dolton resident Barbara Parker said the locked doors are an insult to citizens.

"We are being treated as though we are in prison in our own town, in a place where we pay taxes. We can’t get into our Village Hall," Parker said.

"She doesn't care about the residents at all. She wants to control everything. It's all about what she wants. We're not sitting at the table and that's bad," added another resident.

That message of exclusion was amplified Monday night when about 25 Dolton residents were locked out of a village board meeting. The meeting ended early when four opposition trustees walked out, saying there was ample room for the crowd. They said they canceled the meeting because refusing entry to all would violate the Illinois Open Meetings Act.

"The meeting was adjourned because we have to have enough space," said Trustee Jason House. "The Open Meetings Act requires that we have enough space for everybody to get in."

Mayor Henyard blasted the trustees who walked out of the meeting.

"As you just saw, it’s chaos amongst our four trustees. They didn’t come here to do business. They came here to do a political theater stunt, which you just saw," Henyard said.

As for the decision to lock the doors on Village Hall, a Henyard spokesperson issued a statement blaming "threats of violence as a result of the continuous misinformation portrayed by the media and internet bloggers who are using Dolton as a means to generate ratings and revenue…. Our staff and elected officials have received several disturbing communications via email, social media, phone calls and visitors from across the country. As such, our security protocols have changed."

But residents believe the mayor is hiding behind a security threat to keep them out of her business.

"Because she has a lot of things she has to hide. She has to account for the money that’s been spent," said former Dolton Trustee, Valeria Stubbs.