A bakery that faced harassment and vandalism after advertising for a family-friendly drag show is now being threatened with code violations if it hosts future events, according to a letter sent from the far northwest suburb to the bakery’s owner.
The letter was sent to Corinna Sac, owner of UpRising Bakery and Cafe in Lake in the Hills, on Friday by the town, prompting a response from the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois condemning the town’s actions.
“Our landlord and the people of Lake in the Hills tie our hands and push our backs against the wall,” Sac said in a video posted on social media, getting emotional as he says he canceled two Upcoming Events.
UpRising Bakery, which frequently hosts live music sessions, poetry contests and other community events, began receiving angry calls and criticism on social media last month when it announced a kids’ drag brunch scheduled for July 23.
The harassment escalated, with people calling workers pedophiles and even, in one case, leaving a bag of feces outside the store, Sac previously told the Tribune. He eventually called off the event, which had police expecting crowds of protesters and counter-protesters, after the bakery was robbed and vandalized with insults the night before the show was to take place.
Lake in the Hills police arrested 24-year-old Joseph Collins of Alsip. He was charged with a class 4 felony hate crime and criminal damage to property. Kid-friendly drag events have been organized held in the Chicago area for yearsbilled as a way to offer inclusive programming for children, but events across the country have been targeted by far-right groups.
Sac initially praised the Lake in the Hills police response, saying the department moved quickly to investigate reports of harassment and vandalism, but the relationship apparently took a turn last week. In the July 29 letter, an attorney representing the town wrote that officials are “concerned that there appears to be an entertainment event” advertised on the bakery’s Facebook page, along with other upcoming events. He says the town’s position is that the mall where the bakery is located is not zoned for entertainment.
“If the town learns that entertainment events continue to be advertised at the UpRising Bakery and Cafe location, it will take appropriate enforcement action,” the letter said, including fines of up to $750 per day and suspension or revocation of the business. or liquor licenses.
The letter was at least the second sent to Sac that month. A July 8 letter from a village official reminded the bakery of its tax obligations, not creating a fire hazard and other local rules, but said officials “are not aware of any specific issues arising.” when performing the drag event.
In statements sent to the Tribune, the town reiterated that it believes the events violate zoning ordinances and said it sought to address zoning issues because the bakery’s business model was “fundamentally changed” by offering “regular and extended entertainment events.” Sac has said that the bakery has always done events.
In a meeting with Sac before the July 29 letter was sent, the town told him it had received complaints from nearby businesses and residents about safety concerns and loss of business, according to a statement from the town.
“Supporting our community and businesses, the town showed unwavering support for UpRising Bakery and Cafe, standing alongside the business to fight hate in any way possible,” the town said. “It is disheartening that our actions are now being portrayed in a different light.
In the video posted on social media, Sac said she was forced to cancel a Disney karaoke event as well as a resume writing workshop.
“There was a concern about the amount of resources we are taking from the village,” Sac said in the video, recapping the meeting he had with officials last week. “I feel like this is discrimination and a conspiracy to interfere with my business.”
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in a letter sent to Lake in the Hills on Saturday, the ACLU said the town’s actions are unconstitutional.
The letter, from senior attorney Rebecca Glenberg, says the ACLU denies that the bakery events constituted a zoning violation, but says that even if that were true, the village’s “sudden determination to enforce the code against UpRising or Ms. Sac based on her exercising First Amendment rights constitutes unconstitutional retaliation.”
Glenberg noted that Sac canceled the next two events out of “an abundance of caution,” but asked for assurances from the town that the bakery will be able to hold events in the future.
“Village officials initially seemed inclined to support Ms. Sac and her business in the wake of this horrific event,” the letter says. “Unfortunately, they have chosen to give the person who attacked and wrecked UpRising exactly what she apparently wanted.”
Sac said in the video that he has held community events since the bakery opened and was never told it was a problem. She said the events are necessary to keep her business running.
“I am incredibly sad, angry, upset and angry that they are taking this stance against us,” Sac said.