UpRising Bakery and Cafe in suburban Chicago hosts regular events featuring live music and poetry, and last month it planned to bring some levity to the community with a kid-friendly brunch. It didn’t go as planned, to say the least.
After Lake in the Hills Bakery announced the brunch, angry phone calls and social media criticism began flooding the business. It was just the beginning.
The harassment quickly escalated, with people calling the employees pedophiles and someone even leaving a bag of excrement outside the cafe.
When someone broke into the store and vandalized it with insults the day before the event, owner Corinna Sac said she had no choice but to cancel.
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Lake in the Hills Police have arrested Joseph Collins, 24, who has been charged with a Class 4 hate crime and criminal damage to property. But while Sac initially welcomed the Lake in the Hills police response, she now finds herself at odds with the city itself.
Last week, Sac received a letter from an attorney representing the village who said officials were “concerned that there appears to be an entertainment event” advertised on the company’s Facebook page.
The letter further stated that the mall where the cafe is located was not zoned for entertainment, but no one seemed to have a problem before the brunch debacle.
“If the Village becomes aware of entertainment events that continue to be advertised at the UpRising Bakery and Cafe location, it will pursue appropriate enforcement action,” the letter reads, threatening fines of up to $750 per day and suspension or revocation of licenses.
In the video posted to social media, Sac said she has now been forced to cancel a Disney karaoke event and a very loud resume writing workshop.
“There was concern about the amount of resources we are taking from the village,” Sac said. “I feel like it’s discrimination and a conspiracy to interfere with my business.”
“Our hands are tied and our backs are held against the wall by our landlord and the village of Lake in the Hills,” she added.
The situation prompted a response from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which sent a letter to the village saying its “sudden determination to enforce the code against UpRising or Ms. Sac based on their exercise of First Amendment rights constitutes unconstitutional retaliation”.
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“Village officials initially seemed inclined to support Ms. Sac and her business in the wake of this horrific event,” the ACLU’s letter read. “Unfortunately, they instead chose to give the person who attacked and vandalized UpRising exactly what he apparently wanted.”
“I am incredibly saddened and angry and upset and angry that they are taking this stance against us,” Sac said.
Family drag events have become a hot topic in the right-wing’s anti-LGBTQ culture war. Florida restaurant targeted by state Department of Business and Occupational Regulation after video of drag performance at establishment gone viral.
Last month, after Texas State Rep. Bryan Slaton (right) vowed to ban drag shows with children present, DeSantis hinted he was ready to use the Florida Child Protective Services laws to end the parental rights of adults who take their children to see drag shows.