A bakery that faced threats and vandalism over plans to host a kid-friendly drag show is being warned of large fines if it dares to organise any more events.
Corinna Sac – the owner of UpRising Bakery and Café in Lake in the Hills, Illinois – said in an emotional video on Facebook that village officials had threatened her business with closure as well as hefty fines for code violations.
“Our hands are being tied and our backs are being forced up against the wall by our landlord and the village of Lake in the Hills,” Sac said as she announced two public events were being cancelled.
The bakery suffered angry calls, harassment and vandalism when it advertised a kid-friendly drag brunch scheduled for 23 July. Sac detailed how hateful people called workers pedophiles, left a bag of faeces outside the store and spat on the bakery case display.
Sac attended a “very threatening meeting” with village officials, who later sent a letter threatening to “pursue appropriate enforcement actions” if any more events are organised. These actions included “issuance of municipal code and zoning ordinances violations” with “penalties of up to $750” and the “suspension or revocation” of the cafe’s business and liquor licences.
UpRising Bakery and Café received an outpouring of support after it was vandalised and threatened over a planned family-friendly drag show. (YouTube/ABC 7 Chicago)
“We’ve been holding events pretty much since the day that we opened – live music or paint and sips, cooking making classes and cake decorating classes, what have you,” she said.
Sac continued: “We have always made them safe, family-friendly and available to everyone in the community.”
She insisted village officials never told her the building “was not zoned to do any sort of event” or that there was an alleged concern over “how much resources” they are “taking” from the village.
“I feel like this is discrimination and a conspiracy to interfere with my business,” she said.
She continued: “Unfortunately when the attention waned from all the hate this week, they shifted gears and started victim blaming me after we were attacked by a known domestic terrorist who committed hate crimes against us just one week ago.”
In a statement village officials pushed back against Sac’s allegations there was a “conspiracy to interfere with her business”. Officials said the issue was about the business “conducting activities it was never permitted to conduct”.
UpRising abruptly cancelled the family-friendly drag event planned for July after the bakery was broken into, with several windows smashed, a door broken and hateful slurs written on the walls.
The Owner of Uprising Cafe and Bakery in Lake In The Hills says she is cancelling their planned drag show today after someone vandalized their business overnight. They’ve been receiving threats and harassment for weeks. She sent us these photos of the damage: @cbschicago pic.twitter.com/4ZEoSJSOPv
— Marissa Perlman (@MPerlmanNews) July 23, 2022
And Corrina Sac said she felt “incredibly saddened”, “mad”, “upset” and “angry” that village officials would suddenly have a “problem” with the bakery hosting events.
Police arrested Joseph I Collins, 24, over the incident and he’s since been charged with two felony counts of a hate crime and criminal damage to property. He was released on a $1,000 bond.
Officials are ‘disheartened’ their actions are being ‘portrayed in a different light’
Village officials said the zoning designation of the strip mall where UpRising is located “prohibits entertainment in large parts due to the close proximity” of residential neighbourhoods and “shared tenant parking”.
A statement added officials were only “made aware” of the family-friendly drag event after the show was advertised and “received strong negative criticism”.
In a later statement, the village officials claimed they “demonstrated unwavering support” to the bakery and said it was “disheartening” to see their “actions” be “portrayed in a different light”.
They added the “change” in heart was not because of the “type of entertainment being offered” but because of offering “regular and extended entertainment events as an ongoing part of the business”.
But Rebecca Glenberg, senior staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois, warned cracking down on the bakery’s events “would be unconstitutional”.
She added the Illinois branch of the civil rights organisation is “prepared to respond appropriately” should the village take any “enforcement actions” against Sac or the bakery.
“Village officials initially seemed inclined to support Ms Sac and her business in the wake of this horrific event,” Glenberg wrote. “Unfortunately, they have chosen instead to give the person who attacked and vandalized UpRising exactly what he apparently wanted.”
The ACLU of Illinois said these developments created a “victory for hateful, anti-LGBTQ+ voices who attacked the owner and bakery after coverage of the drag brunch”.