Secretary of State condemns rash of bomb threats at libraries
Several Illinois libraries have been the target of bomb threats in recent days, according to Secretary of State Alexi Giannoulias. He issued a statement Tuesday morning.
"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," he said.
The Secretary of State's Office did not say how many threats have been reported, but indicated the following libraries, all in northern Illinois, were among those to have received them.
- Park Ridge Public Library
- Morton Grove Public Library
- Wilmette Public Library
- Oak Park Public Library
- Warren-Newport Public Library
No injuries have been reported and, at least so far, police have been able to determine the threats were not credible.
The Illinois Library Association put out a statement this week.
The ACLU of Illinois also commented about the threats.
"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," the ACLU said.
"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."
Earlier this year, Giannoulias spearheaded the effort to pass a law punishing libraries that ban books. The governor later signed the measure that allows withholding funding to public or school libraries. Giannoulias said the bans are about "restricting the freedom of ideas that some disagree with."
"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," Giannoulias said.
"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."