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What’s next at St. Charles Library after anti-mask protests?

By Sidney Madden | @sidney_madden_


The St. Charles Library remains closed weeks after staffers shared threats they received following an anti-maskers’ protest

On Jan. 18, the west suburban librarians denied service to parents, who were from right-wing groups Freedom Illinois and Awake Illinois, and their kids for failing to comply with the state’s mask mandate. 

Unmasked parents repeatedly said they planned to file complaints under the American with Disabilities Act in newly viral videos by Patriot Takes, a publication covering right-wing extremism. 

Going on year three of the pandemic, citing the ADA for mask exemptions isn’t new. But is that really how the law works? 

The ADA was passed in 1990 to prohibit discrimination against people with disabilities. But people need to have legally recognized disabilities to be protected, University of Houston professor Jessica Roberts told USA Today

Even people protected under ADA aren’t given a “blanket exemption … from complying with legitimate safety requirements necessary for safe operations,” the U.S. Department of Justice said in June 2020. 

The St. Charles Library, closed since Jan. 20, won’t reopen until more security measures are in place following more threats of retaliation from maskless groups.

Freedom Illinois’ Chrissi Bretz denied there were threats on the “Mark My Words With Mark Vargas” radio show Sunday.

But the mask fight doesn’t stop at libraries: Freedom Illinois helped plan an anti-mask protest over the weekend at the Thompson Center with Turning Point USA, and Awake Illinois went to court earlier this month over masks in school.


The city began demolishing the Cabrini-Green high-rises in the 1990s, and the last one went down in 2011. But many of the former residents are still fighting for what the city promised them: a chance to return to their community. 

City Cast’s Jacoby Cochran led a panel over the weekend with journalists who investigated these broken promises, local historian Shermann “Dilla” Thomas, and former residents and activists connected to Cabrini-Green to talk about where the community is now.

🎧 Go back and listen to our first episode about Cabrini-Green’s legacy.


▪️ A person of interest is being questioned for vandalizing synagogues, Jewish businesses, and a school in West Ridge over the weekend, detectives said. [Block Club Chicago]

▪️ Critics say efforts to make Jackson Park Advisory Council voting more exclusive is discriminatory. But the council says meeting attendance has ballooned since the Obama Center picked the area. [WTTW]

▪️ Will Illinois residents see $1 billion in tax relief? Gov. JB Pritzker’s election-year budget address is Wednesday. [WBEZ]

▪️ Brace yourself for a lot of snow. How much? Maybe six inches, maybe 10. But probably not 20. [Chicago Sun-Times]

▪️ Know your way around Chi? Try this streets quiz. [Chicago Magazine]


There’s only one day left to vote City Cast the Chicago Reader’s BEST newsletter and podcast.

Who else is telling you about the city’s renewed ShotSpotter contract one day and Chicago stepping the next? Plus, we share your hidden gems, love stories, and more. 


While you celebrate Black History Month, remember its Chicago origins. 

Inspired by Illinois’ weekslong 50th anniversary emancipation celebration in 1915, Carter G. Woodson founded a Black history association with other scholars at the Wabash YMCA in Bronzeville, according to the Chicago Public Library

Woodson, dubbed the “Father of Black History,” helped launch Negro History Week in February 1926. Five decades later, President Gerald Ford expanded it and officially recognized February as Black History Month. 

👉 Tour the historic YMCA this month. Proceeds go toward restoring the site. 
🎧 Listen to the YMCA Chicago’s new leader tell City Cast about her vision for the organization. 

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