1997 standoff at Roby, Illinois

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The 1997 standoff at Roby, Illinois, sometimes referred to as Roby Ridge and the Standoff at Roby Ridge,[1][2] involved Shirley Allen, of Roby, Illinois, a former nurse whose family's 1997 attempt to have her involuntarily committed led to a 39-day standoff with Illinois State Police and other law-enforcement agencies.[3]

On September 22, 1997, officers of the Christian County, Illinois sheriff's department attempted to serve commitment papers that had been obtained by a court order after a petition by some of her relatives. Though the relatives have said they were concerned about her mental state, some have alleged that the motive was to gain control of her land; there were two oil wells on her 47-acre (190,000 m²) farm. Illinois State Police Director Terry Gainer said at the time that police were "there for this woman's protection and for the protection of her neighbors. I think we're doing the right thing. We can't afford not to."

The police were accused[by whom?] by some of using "military-style tactics" against Allen after she allegedly fired a shotgun at officers. (There is some controversy as to whether Allen fired first, and indeed, police have offered contradictory statements on this.) The police used tear gas,[2] rubber bullets,[4] Barry Manilow music played at high volume day and night, and a police dog to attempt to take her into custody, and eventually shut off her electricity, gas[5] and water, and arrested a neighbor who tried to bring her food and water. Other neighbors paid Allen's bills and attempted to provide her with food.[6] Numerous protestors stayed at the site during the standoff,[4][6] including members of the "militia movement".[a]


After six weeks in a mental hospital, Allen was released when doctors said she posed no danger to herself or others.

The standoff led to international attention[6] and controversies over the cost of the operation as well as involuntary commitment laws. Local authorities spent almost $1 million in relation to the event.[6] Self-described "patriot" and militia groups, as well as the Libertarian Party, called for reform of Illinois mental health laws providing for the hospitalization of people who do not break the law. There have also been accusations that the police violated her First Amendment rights.[8] Some have dubbed the incident Roby Ridge, an allusion to the 1992 Ruby Ridge standoff.[1]

In popular culture[edit]

Dave vonKleist recorded a song about the standoff, "The Ballad of Shirley Allen".[9]


  1. ^ "As militiamen cheer her on, one woman holds off Illinois state troopers Police vehicles, top, stationed out of sight of the farmhouse; Allen with her husband John ft If she'd just give me five ..."[7]


  1. ^ a b Parsons, Christi (October 3, 1997). "Police Pull Back In Siege Of Woman With Shotgun". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved September 28, 2016.
  2. ^ a b Mulloy, D. (2004). American Extremism: History, Politics and the Militia Movement. Extremism and Democracy. Taylor & Francis. p. 216. ISBN 978-1-134-35802-1.
  3. ^ Dedman, Bill (October 24, 1997). "One-Woman Standoff at 'Roby Ridge'". The New York Times. Retrieved September 28, 2016.
  4. ^ a b "Troopers grab troubled woman, end Illinois standoff - October 30, 1997". CNN. October 30, 1997. Retrieved September 28, 2016.
  5. ^ Crothers, L. (2004). Rage on the Right: The American Militia Movement from Ruby Ridge to Homeland Security. People, Passions, and Power. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. p. 155. ISBN 978-0-585-46382-7.
  6. ^ a b c d Heal, C.; Heal, S. (2012). Field Command. Lantern Books. p. pt4. ISBN 978-1-59056-355-7.
  7. ^ Grace, Julie (October 27, 1997). "Standoff at Roby Ridge". Time. Retrieved September 28, 2016. (subscription required) (Additional link: [1])
  8. ^ Truthresources.org
  9. ^ Freedom's Phoenix Dave Von Kleist put Guitar up for auction

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]