Anti-Mask Protests at a Glen Ellyn Elementary School Spark Conversation at a Recent Online Event

Glen Ellyn League of Women Voters’ online event highlights current local tensions over school mask mandate

Devin Oommen, Staff Writer

At an event focused on police partnerships, community members bring up protests at a Glen Ellyn elementary school.

Deep opposition to mask and vaccine mandates sparked conversation in an online event hosted this past week. The Glen Ellyn League of Women Voters hosted the webinar to educate voters and the public about community policing, concerned parents also ended up engaging the Glen Ellyn Chief of Police about protests that have been happening outside of Forest Glen Elementary School.

The event, titled “A Conversation on Police Partnerships and Community Policing,” provided a real-world example of Glen Ellyn PD community partnerships.

The speakers of the event, Glen Ellyn Chief of Police Philip Norton and COD Professor Theodore Darden spoke about community policing and police partnerships. The partnerships were witnessed in real-time as Norton described what has been happening outside of Forest Glen Elementary and how the department has been handling the situation.

Norton gave a brief summary of the protests that have been happening outside of Forest Glen Elementary, which are against the recent mask and vaccine mandates; specifically opposing the requirement for elementary-aged children to wear masks in school. According to Norton, there have been instances where protestors have yelled phrases or confronted the kids and/or their parents, sometimes yelling things such as “Hail Hitler” and/or “Your kids are part of Hitler youth for wearing masks.”

 Concerned parents and community members who have witnessed these events asked where the boundary is between the first amendment rights of the protestors and the safety of the kids. Karin Daly, Vice President of the League of Women Voters of Glen Ellyn, revealed she had been witness to the protests, saying that she and other parents formed a human shield of sorts between the schoolchildren and protestors.

Norton spoke about partnerships the police department had formed with the community. He also stated the department prioritizes all opportunities to do community outreach, emphasizing the department holds important partnerships with Glen Ellyn schools and elderly citizens and looks to reach the entire community as opportunities for interaction arise.

Professor Darden covered a vast amount of information in a small amount of time. He commended the Glen Ellyn police department for its efforts to make police partnerships and community policing a departmental philosophy. He also touched on everything from popular beliefs about law enforcement to the reality of policing, differences between state and local level agencies, and specifics of HB 3653. HB 3653 is a bill that was signed into law by Governor Pritzker on Feb. 22. It includes changes to laws concerning cash bail, mandates for body cameras, bans on police chokeholds, and many others.

The League of Women Voters of Glen Ellyn is a non-partisan organization dedicated to informing the community about policy issues.

More information about the protests and a link to a recording of the virtual event can be found below: