This piece initially ran on the Advocate.com. Read the original here.
A bakery in a Chicago suburb that planned to host a family-friendly drag show has already been the target of hate, and now the local government is telling its operator to quit hosting public events.
The UpRising Bakery and Café in Lake of the Hills received a letter last week from village officials saying the business was not properly zoned to be an event site, owner Corrina Sac said in a Facebook video posted Saturday. She had not heard about any zoning issues until she had a “very threatening meeting” with members of the village government last Thursday, where officials also expressed concerns about public resources being used to protect UpRising. The business has been hosting events since it opened in November and relies on them to generate income, she said.
“I feel like this is discrimination and a conspiracy to interfere with my business,” Sac said. “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.”
The business was vandalized in July after it announced it would be hosting a drag brunch. Windows were smashed and graffiti was painted on the building, including messages such as “groomers,” “fags rape kids,” and “Christ is king.” Sac initially said the event would go on, but she eventually canceled it because of safety concerns. The bakery had received online and in-person threats as well.
Joseph I. Collins, 24, who lives in the neighboring town of Alsip, was arrested in connection with the vandalism. He is charged with a hate crime and criminal property damage, both of which are class 4 felonies.
“Collins has been photographed wearing Proud Boys garb and standing alongside Edgar ‘Remy Del Toro’ Delatorre, a prominent member of the neofascist group,” the Chicago Sun-Times reports. “Both men were present for the January 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol, which has led to federal charges against dozens of Proud Boys.”
In the Saturday Facebook video, Sac said she was canceling a Disney karaoke event planned for that evening and a résumé-writing workshop scheduled for the next day.
The village government contended there is no conspiracy against Sac. “This issue is about a business conducting activities it was never permitted to conduct,” said a press release on the village website. It said entertainment venues are not approved for that location, which is in a strip mall, “due to the close proximity to residential neighborhoods and shared tenant parking.” Sac’s “business model” has changed since she opened the bakery, with the addition of the entertainment events, the document continued.
The American Civil Liberties Union’s Illinois affiliate has sent a letter to the village government accusing it of “unconstitutional retaliation” against Sac and her business. “We dispute the [village] letter’s characterization of UpRising programs as ‘entertainment events’ that are prohibited in a B-2 zoning district,” ACLU of Illinois attorney Rebecca K. Glenberg wrote. “Even if that characterization is correct, however, the Village’s sudden determination to enforce the code against UpRising or Ms. Sac based on their exercise of First Amendment rights constitutes unconstitutional retaliation.”
Glenberg urged village officials not to interfere with upcoming events at UpRising, including the drag brunch, which has been rescheduled for this weekend.