UpRising supporters, detractors pack board meeting in Lake in the Hills

  • Corinna Bendel-Sac, far left, owner of UpRising Bakery in Lake in the Hills, listens to comments about her bakery at Tuesday's Lake in the Hills village board meeting.

    Corinna Bendel-Sac, far left, owner of UpRising Bakery in Lake in the Hills, listens to comments about her bakery at Tuesday's Lake in the Hills village board meeting. James T. Norman/Shaw Local News Network

 
 
Updated 9/20/2022 10:31 PM

It was standing room only Tuesday night at the Lake in the Hills village board meeting as more than 80 people came out to show either support for or opposition to UpRising Bakery and Cafe.

The meeting was the latest in a saga that began after the local bakery drew attention for hosting drag shows and other events open to children and has included harassment and vandalism of the bakery and its employees.

 

Employees quit as a result of the harassment, and the bakery's owner, Corinna Bendel-Sac, has since said she fears for both her business and life. Bendel-Sac was in attendance Tuesday and had a banner with a rainbow American flag with her.

Supporters spoke of tolerance and repeatedly voiced the idea that anyone who didn't like the events didn't have to attende. Detractors said they sought to protect children and raised concerns about whether the events were allowed under zoning rules.

Supporter Eric Willoughby said those opposed to the bakery were "spreading conspiracies" that people in the LGBTQ community groom children and were trying to spread fear. He called their opposition "terroristic," and called on the Village Board to condemn those protesting the bakery.

"We won't back down," Willoughby said. "We won't tuck our tails in-between our legs and run away."

For resident Ted Shew, the issue was limiting what children are exposed to. He said children already experience high levels of anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts.

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"Disagreements aren't hatred," Shew said in response to Willoughby. Shew said he has a transgender daughter and he doesn't have to agree with her to love her.

Tuesday's meeting followed the daily gathering of protesters last week as protesters, which triggered counterprotesters who by Saturday afternoon outnumbered those opposed to UpRising.

James Gustafson, a former Lake in the Hills resident who currently lives in Arizona, was at Saturday's protest and Tuesday's meeting.

He said he doesn't think the content being displayed at the bakery is something young children should see, comparing it to a "red light district." He reiterated plans to camp out at the bakery every day until March.

"I have been sworn at. I've been threatened," he said. "If love is truly love, I have not seen that displayed by patrons of the bakery."

Village President Ray Bogdanowski said that the bakery is following village code and that the village's goal is to promote safety.

"Our previous concerns we had with the bakery owner were addressed," he said. "No matter what side of the issue you're on ... our main focus (is safety)."

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