April 16, 2024
Crime & Courts

Glen Ellyn residents call on village officials to denounce racist notes found near schools

GLEN ELLYN – A group of residents continues to call on the Glen Ellyn Village Board to denounce racist, derogatory and threatening statements found in March on the Glenbard West High School and St. Petronille Catholic School campuses.

“There is no place in our community for racism," Our Voice – Chicago West Suburbs founder Sania Irwin said at a Village Board meeting April 9. "I’m urging the Glen Ellyn Village Board again to make a strong and unequivocal public statement that Glen Ellyn will not tolerate racist, derogatory statements and threats. That is not the community we are.”

St. Petronille canceled classes March 19 after the notes were found. Glenbard West and all other Glen Ellyn schools stayed open and continued with their normal school days. Notes were not found at other schools.

The Glen Ellyn Police Department is withholding the content of the notes as it continues its investigation.

However, St. Petronille Principal Maureen Aspell told parents in a letter that two teachers saw two signs on the parish office windows that had threatening and racist comments, made mention of a bomb and included a hand-drawn picture of a bomb. In addition, she said a sticker also was found on a maintenance crew’s car that had racist and threatening language.

Glenbard Township High School District 87 spokeswoman Peg Mannion previously said Glenbard West's administration was made aware of stickers containing racist and derogatory statements placed in various locations outside the building.

"One of the stickers contained a threatening statement directed at Glenbard West," she said in an emailed statement. "Glen Ellyn police and Glenbard West administration immediately began investigating and securing the school grounds."

Before residents addressed the Village Board, Village President Diane McGinley spoke about the issue.

"For obvious reasons, the board does not comment regarding ongoing criminal investigations," McGinley said. "However, as a village, it should go without saying that we embrace diversity, and we welcome all diverse perspectives and respect the opinions of all."

Trustee Mark Senak followed up McGinley's comments by calling the incidents an “act of terrorism.”

“It was designed to strike fear into the hearts of our residents and in the hearts of our students,” Senak said.

He called on the suspects to turn themselves in to authorities.

“I don’t consider this to be a prank, I don’t consider this to be a joke, I don’t consider this to be funny,” Senak said. “I consider this to be as serious as the events that have taken place around our country that ended up in fatalities.”

Glen Ellyn resident Sandra Alexander said while she appreciated the comments made by village officials condemning the people who made the threats, “this incident happened three weeks ago.”

“The village failed to provide an immediate statement of reassurance to our citizens that we are united against these types of incidents,” she said. “This is a missed opportunity by the village to take a leadership role and demonstrate that we are an inclusive and unified community and that we will stand up for one another.”

The Rev. George Smith of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Glen Ellyn also said it was time for the village to pass a resolution condemning the statements that were made. He read a resolution passed by the Glendale, Calif., City Council that denounced “hatred, violence and terrorism.”