Capitol - Your Illinois News Radar » *** UPDATED x2 *** Numerous bomb threats forcing suburban libraries to close out of caution
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*** UPDATED x2 *** Numerous bomb threats forcing suburban libraries to close out of caution

Tuesday, Aug 22, 2023 - Posted by Rich Miller

* This is just awful…

* From the Tribune story

Several libraries across the northern suburbs received bomb threats Thursday afternoon, and while police found no bombs, the libraries responded by shutting down in order to calm shaken employees and patrons.

Libraries in Morton Grove, Park Ridge, Gurnee and Wilmette have reported receiving threats, prompting Glencoe Public Library, which did not receive a threat, to close its doors, citing a building emergency. […]

Libraries have been facing increased scrutiny across the country, as well as in Lincolnwood and other local suburbs, with some individuals or organizations pushing for book bans or bans on events such as drag queen story hours. Governor J.B. Pritzker signed legislation in June designed to combat book bans in Illinois by withholding state funding from libraries that remove books and other materials from their shelves for “partisan or doctrinal” reasons. […]

At the Lincolnwood Public Library, which did not receive a threat, Library Director Susan Dove Lempke said, “My understanding is that the threats came through libraries’ chat functions on their website, and we don’t have that on ours.” […]

“It’s very upsetting,” Illinois Library Association Executive Director Cynthia Robinson said. “Public libraries are available to everybody and it is one of the few places where you can go and not spend any money. It is scary, as libraries work very hard to be safe spaces for their patrons.”

* Tribune yesterday

The Oak Park Public Library is set to reopen Tuesday after being closed Monday “out of an abundance of caution” following a threat, officials told Pioneer Press.

According to village of Oak Park spokesman Dan Yopchick, library officials made a decision to close all three village library branches Monday after getting an ominous online message.

The message, “There will be a big explosion all over Cook county’s highways and librarys including Chicago gurnee and oak park. It will explode sometime tomorrow 8/21/2023,” was received by the library over the weekend, Yopchick stated in an email to Pioneer Press Monday. […]

Yopchick said the Oak Park police noted that several libraries across the northern suburbs received similar threats on Aug. 17 and that no explosives were ever found or detonated.

These acts are designed to instill terror, so I hope the feds are taking this seriously.

*** UPDATE 1 *** Secretary of State Alexi Giannoulias…

As the State’s Librarian, I strongly condemn these threats of violence and intimidation that are unfortunately becoming all too common at libraries in Illinois and across our nation. The bomb threats received by Illinois libraries during the past several days represent a troublesome and disturbing trend that has escalated from banning books, to harassing and criminalizing librarians and now to endangering the lives of innocent people.

I wholeheartedly support our libraries, which are committed to serving our communities as safe, welcoming havens to learn and access ideas and especially our librarians who are dedicated public servants devoted to treating people with dignity and respect. Libraries and librarians protect our First Amendment right to free speech and our constitutional right to read. We must join together to stand up to fringe elements that resort to threats of violence and seek to destroy the fundamental freedoms that our nation was founded upon.

*** UPDATE 2 *** Edwin C. Yohnka, Director of Communications, at the ACLU of Illinois…

Public libraries are sanctuaries for communities to gather to read, study, go online, get out of the heat and explore new ideas. They are places to build community. For this reason, the recent bomb threats targeting public libraries across the Chicago area are sad and deeply troubling. But these disturbing events cannot be a trigger for giving into those seeking to ban materials and displays from our public libraries.

We should all be clear. The recent threats result from ideologically driven attacks on libraries, attacks from a small handful of loud voices who seek to ban books and displays that reflect and elevate the experiences and views of LGBTQ+ people, people of color and other voices too often ignored in our society. The language and misinformation driving these book bans sadly lead some to believe that threats of violence are an appropriate response to children’s books they do not like.

Threats of violence against libraries make clear that each of us must support the work of all librarians across Illinois. It is time that we unite as a state in opposing the voices of anger that want to ban books and not allow ourselves to be coerced by threats. We encourage everyone to show support for their public library by increasing your patronage, attending a library board meeting or sharing a message of support with your local librarians. It is time to speak up.


  1. - Norseman - Tuesday, Aug 22, 23 @ 9:23 am:

    Another reminder of the MAGA vision for America.

  2. - Sangamo Girl - Tuesday, Aug 22, 23 @ 9:35 am:

    People that work and volunteer in libraries go into public service. They want to help their friends and neighbors. They certainly didn’t select this field to get rich. To treat them as potential cannon fodder for hate groups is well outside the job description. And it has a chilling effect on those behind them that are thinking about public service. Which is exactly the point.

  3. - OneMan - Tuesday, Aug 22, 23 @ 9:45 am:

    Law enforcement’s full force and effort must be applied to this.

    Man, the cowardice of this ticks me off.

  4. - Roadrager - Tuesday, Aug 22, 23 @ 9:53 am:

    Well, let’s not be rash here. Certainly there’s compromise to be had. Perhaps in the interest of centrism, we can say no to calling in bomb threats to a dozen libraries, but allow envelopes of inert white powder to be mailed to five. That’s how we used to get things done in this country.

    /profoundly heavy s

    I am reminded of the story I read over the weekend, in which a library board approved moving an LGBTQ+ book for teens into the adult section citing the community concerns about it not being age appropriate. Immediately after that move, one of the Concerned Citizens(tm) at the meeting walked up to the board and handed them a list of 14 more books that had to outright go next.

    You either make these people stop in no uncertain terms, or you have put them in charge with your lack of action.

  5. - vern - Tuesday, Aug 22, 23 @ 9:57 am:

    I’ll be pleasantly surprised if any Republican elected official condemns these threats. If they want to start winning back the suburbs, they should loudly oppose bomb threats against suburban libraries.

  6. - Michelle Flaherty - Tuesday, Aug 22, 23 @ 10:02 am:

    Vern — What any elected Republican should do is move their office to the local public library for a day and invite the public to come visit. Words are cheap. Actions are better.

  7. - Demoralized - Tuesday, Aug 22, 23 @ 10:02 am:

    If we can’t get the books banned we’ll just blow up the library.

  8. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Aug 22, 23 @ 10:03 am:

    ===What any elected Republican should do is===

    Good idea. Let’s see if any Democrats do that since they’re in charge.

  9. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Aug 22, 23 @ 10:04 am:

    Harmon, for instance, represents Oak Park.

  10. - Amalia - Tuesday, Aug 22, 23 @ 10:06 am:

    Maddow had a story on last night about Trump stopping asking for mass rallies. instead open season we get individual acts of violence. Right wing violence is the worst terrorism the USA faces. Lefties want books for all. some others do not.

  11. - Lucky Pierre - Tuesday, Aug 22, 23 @ 10:09 am:

    The Republicans in Oak Park can all meet in a phone booth

  12. - TheInvisibleMan - Tuesday, Aug 22, 23 @ 10:13 am:

    “Certainly there’s compromise to be had.”

    Just ‘be nice’ to them. That’ll fix everything.

  13. - Walker - Tuesday, Aug 22, 23 @ 10:14 am:

    We (the D Reps and Senators around here) often have regularly scheduled office hours and group meetings in local libraries. I’m not sure we wouldn’t cause more safety concerns for our libraries if we made a big deal about our presence

    Yes, bomb threats are the ultimate cowardice, and should be investigated

  14. - Grandson of Man - Tuesday, Aug 22, 23 @ 10:15 am:

    Some at a party blurted out support of book bans. They wouldn’t have been thinking of this if Republicans weren’t waging a war on “woke” and LGBTQ+. All of a sudden they’re terrified of “grooming.” They didn’t think of this even a few years ago. What changed in a few years, beside the manufactured crusade? Books in libraries have been more or less the same.

  15. - Jocko - Tuesday, Aug 22, 23 @ 10:22 am:

    With the increasing use of VPNs, I’m worried that doxxing and emailed threats will become the norm.

    It’s a shame, but libraries need to shut off their chat function and might require patrons have a verified email address on file. They shouldn’t have to put up with this nonsense.

  16. - Pundent - Tuesday, Aug 22, 23 @ 10:25 am:

    Do these idiots realize who actually goes to the library? I’m a regular patron so perhaps I can enlighten them. It’s senior citizens and pre-school kids (with their parents). The teens they’re likely trying to protect are at home surfing adult websites.

  17. - H-W - Tuesday, Aug 22, 23 @ 10:34 am:

    Cowards always choose weak targets against which to assert their strength. Libraries and Rainbow flags cannot fight back. Ethnic minorities, women, LGBTQ citizens and the poor are not in control of our society. They are at the mercy of the powerful and the cowards who desire another group to stand over so as not to be on bottom.

    Cowards rarely understand that autocrats revel in this futile show of support for anarchy and totalitarian rule, because the rage cowards express is directed away from the cause of their problems.

    Cowards are ignorant (practiced in the art of ignoring) of the fact that their stagnant wages, limited mobility opportunities, increasing costs of living, unheard voices and other problems in living do not emanate from the needs of those weaker than them, but from those who exploit the weak and the cowards.

    Cowards do not understand that in expressions such as this, they simply ensure that they too remain relatively and absolutely disadvantaged, relative to those who rule them and exploit cowards and other socially weakened groups.

  18. - Ducky LaMoore - Tuesday, Aug 22, 23 @ 10:41 am:

    This is not a partisan issue. This is terrorism. These people, once apprehended, should be in prison for a very long time.

  19. - Nick Name - Tuesday, Aug 22, 23 @ 10:52 am:

    MAGAs: do they simply not check out books they find offensive? No. Do they simply not enter libraries that might contain books they find offensive? No. MAGAs go full terrorist and make bomb threats against libraries.

  20. - Club J - Tuesday, Aug 22, 23 @ 11:01 am:

    Wasn’t that Awake group involved in some library closings last year or earlier this year? Same with a bakery or donut shop. Could be them again?

  21. - Roadrager - Tuesday, Aug 22, 23 @ 11:18 am:

    ==Wasn’t that Awake group involved in some library closings last year or earlier this year? Same with a bakery or donut shop. Could be them again?==

    Far more likely that they aren’t. Groups like Awake or conspiratorial media outlets don’t resort to actions like these, but they are more than happy to plant the seed. Shannon Adcock or Matt Walsh or Ben Shapiro aren’t going to phone in a bomb threat to a library. Do they know her material is very well received by the type of audience that would call in bomb threats to libraries? Maybe, but you can’t prove that, that’s the joy of plausible deniability. So threats like these or the pride flag shooting in California over the weekend get chalked up to “bad actors” or “lone wolves.” And there will be another lone wolf next week, with negligible reflection on who keeps breeding all these lone wolves.

  22. - From DaZoo - Tuesday, Aug 22, 23 @ 11:23 am:

    “Good idea. Let’s see if any Democrats do that since they’re in charge.”

    Sometime within the past few months, Rep Canty has held her “in-district office day” at AHML once or twice. So it’s in the realm of possibility.

  23. - cermak_rd - Tuesday, Aug 22, 23 @ 11:36 am:

    To echo the VPN thing again, with a VPN someone can be in London or Philly and be making idle threats against Chicago area libraries, appearing to be located in the Chicagoland area. And it’s hard (but not impossible) to trace.
    Because political threats (and a library is a function of government) affect the functioning of our democracy itself, I think the FBI should concentrate on this kind of thing and find a way to trace it quickly to both determine if it’s a credible threat (so the library doesn’t have to close) or not and also to prosecute offenders, if possible.

  24. - cermak_rd - Tuesday, Aug 22, 23 @ 11:39 am:

    Oak Park actually once had a very solid Republican presence. The party first had no understanding of the demographic change going on in it (younger people) and also once it started going crazy (tea party I guess) it became too weird for the Oak Parkers.

  25. - orrjosh - Tuesday, Aug 22, 23 @ 1:08 pm:

    Bomb threats can currently be charged as either/both Disorderly Conduct or under the Terrorism statute. If these people are found they need to be charged under the terrorism statute. Disorderly is only a class 4, basically the same is personal use controlled substance possession. That’s not enough.

  26. - Incandenza - Tuesday, Aug 22, 23 @ 1:26 pm:

    The hate spewed by the right wing media in this country was always going to result in these vile acts. It’s a sad situation we’ve found ourselves in with our very neighbors and fellow citizens.

  27. - Dotnonymous x - Tuesday, Aug 22, 23 @ 1:29 pm:

    Bullies love victims willing to make concession after concession…while the bully makes none…ever.

  28. - Excitable Boy - Tuesday, Aug 22, 23 @ 1:46 pm:

    - The Republicans in Oak Park can all meet in a phone booth -

    You have some inside information on who is calling these in?

  29. - Phineas - Tuesday, Aug 22, 23 @ 2:12 pm:

  30. - Cosgrove - Tuesday, Aug 22, 23 @ 4:53 pm:

    Intimidation, physical attacks, violence, bomb threats, arson, murder are what millions of women and medical providers have experienced for five decades in the U.S. where abortion health care is provided. This canary in the coal mine for what is now happening today was too easily ignored, dismissed and not taken seriously by lawmakers and law enforcement.

  31. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Aug 22, 23 @ 4:58 pm:

    If your idea of freedom begins with bomb threats and the stopping of free thinking… you’ve likely been brainwashed into repressive group think.

  32. - Dotnonymous x - Tuesday, Aug 22, 23 @ 5:25 pm:

    - H-W - Tuesday, Aug 22, 23 @ 10:34 am: -

    Truly insightful assessment…couldn’t agree more.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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