Residents, leaders offer support to vandalized Lake in the Hills bakery

Leading up to what was billed as a family-friendly drag show and brunch Saturday at Uprising Bakery and Cafe in Lake in the Hills, host and performer Jakki Love said she was nervous from all the vitriol that had come as a result.

The cafe's owner had been harassed in the weeks leading up to the event, which culminated in the cafe being vandalized Friday night, leading to the event's cancellation.

Before being canceled, the show had sold out. But now, boards cover the bakery's broken windows and police are patrolling the scene.

"You see all this stuff happening all over the nation and you naively assume that it's not going to happen to (you)," Love said Saturday while standing in front of the cafe. "And then when it finally does, it comes as a shock."

Despite some opposition to the performance, the community surrounding the cafe has been supportive, particularly on social media. The bulk of the comments on the bakery's Facebook post announcing the cancellation are supportive of the cafe, with many asking how they can help or donate. Others call for "this insane intolerance" to stop.

"I thought we were more forward thinking than this in the area," one comment reads. "From all these comments, just know so much of this community supports you, it's the small faction that have small minds."

McHenry County Board member John Collins, a Democrat from Crystal Lake, said in a comment he was "embarrassed for our community today." State Rep. Suzanne Ness, also a Crystal Lake Democrat, said in a post she is "disturbed and saddened that a small local business in our community could be harassed and targeted."

"Let's not let hate ever win," she wrote.

Before being canceled, the Saturday-evening show had invited families and children, the latter of which had their tickets discounted. Groups opposed to the performances were expected to protest. Counter-protests also were expected.

Awake IL - an organization dedicated to stopping the teaching of critical race theory - said on its Twitter account the person responsible for Friday's vandalism should be "prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."

Awake IL did not respond to requests for comment, but in previous social media posts noted that while it had "blasted this perverted event on social media," they were not planning to organize a protest.

Shortly after midnight Saturday, police arrested Alsip resident Joseph Collins, who is now charged with a hate crime and criminal damage to property in connection with the vandalism. Both charges are a Class 4 felonies.

Following the vandalism, police patrolled the parking lot of the cafe all day Saturday.

Lake in the Hills Village President Raymond Bogdanowski called the vandalism a "senseless hate crime" in an email Saturday night, and called it "disturbing" how far the suspect allegedly traveled to carry it out. Alsip is about 60 miles from Lake in the Hills.

"Our village will not tolerate acts of violence or hate crimes at any time," Bogdanowski said in the email. "We will work diligently to make sure guilty parties are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. All businesses and families that reside in Lake in the Hills deserve to feel safe at all times. We will work to ensure that everyday and night."

Love, who is 23 and has been performing drag for about four years now, said those coming out against the show were coming from a place of "pure ignorance." Love described drag as an art-form and compared it to music, poetry and painting. There's different levels of art for all ages, she said.

"People don't know what drag is," she said. "People only assume drag is this burlesque-style performance. ... It's not that. If we're having an all-ages drag show, we're not going to be stripping in front of kids. We understand there's children here. We're people too. We understand right from wrong."

Joseph I. Collins
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