Letter threatening homecoming 'violence' sent to OPRF

Law enforcement investigating credibility of the threat

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By Michael Romain

Staff Reporter

Oak Park and River Forest High School District 200 officials are on alert after receiving an "anonymous letter via regular mail threatening violence during tomorrow's homecoming dance."

District 200 officials sent out robocalls to OPRF families on late Friday afternoon disclosing receipt of the threatening letter.

According to the call, the letter "did not mention race and we have no indication that this threat is connected to events surrounding" racially insensitive social media posts.

This week, the district suspended a student after he shared on Snapchat a photo showing him wearing blackface and suggesting he run for president of the Black Leaders Union at OPRF.

The district also suspended popular teacher Anthony Clark, who posted the racially insensitive photo to Facebook. Clark removed the photo after talking with the student and his mother and subsequently removed the Facebook posts altogether.

 The robocall said that the district immediately contacted Oak Park police after receiving the letter. Local police reportedly are working with state and federal law enforcement officials to determine the threat's credibility.

District officials said that, in the meantime, they've increased police presence and patrols around the campus "around the clock through tomorrow's dance."

There will also be security searches at the football stadium and the field house before tonight's game and tomorrow before the dance, which has been assigned extra security personnel.

District officials also announced that they'll refund the tickets of students who have now opted not to attend the dance. They said that they'll provide a status update no later than 4 p.m. tomorrow. 

Email: michael@oakpark.com

Reader Comments

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David Yamashita from Oak Park  

Posted: October 18th, 2017 11:17 AM

On a positive note: The Homecoming dance was held with a typical large crowd of students, AND without incident. My daughter and her friends shared that they had a great time. Credit to the District administration and law enforcement officials in handling this all too common occurrence, in a fashion that allowed parents and students to feel an appropriate level of safety.

Jeff Schroeder from Oak Park  

Posted: October 17th, 2017 3:07 PM

I believe the article stressed that this threat was not related to race or other current controversies. So why did they article go on to raise these controversies? Maybe this is just some immature kid or adult who is looking to make trouble? We really don't know anything, so why speculate?

Christine Vernon  

Posted: October 15th, 2017 3:54 PM

A threatening letter requires law enforcement's priority to be to protect the people threatened and keep them safe.. It is an unsettling time in America, we see this on the news, but not all Americans are intolerant of one another! Every community can make a choice about this. Oak Park is a community that made a choice to be committed to diversity and tolerance. Some communities make other choices. The story of Ryan White is a good example. Born a hemophiliac in 1971 in Kokomo, Indiana , Ryan contracted the AIDS virus from a transfusion. and the people there would not let him return to school because of their fear he would make them all sick. They made their decision out of ignorance and how AIDS was contracted and spread. There was another community in Cicero Indiana, where people made a different choice. They welcomed Ryan and his family to come live In Cicero, an example of how communities make different choices about how they want to live. Ryan died in 1990 at age 18 just as he was about to finish high school. Do we want to live in a community which makes life harder for ourselves and others, or do we want to live in a community that has our back. That's a choice people make. The people I know in Oak Park are tolerant, except that is when it comes to tolerating violence because it is easier never to let violence start than it is to stop it once it becomes rooted in a community. In the commennst, people describe Oak Parkers as talking about problems all the time, calling meetings., it's somewhat true. It would be more likely that citizens would rather talk each other to death than physically harm one another. Sometimes it does some good to talk and sometimes it just wears everyone out. Problems are not always solved that way. But "dialogue" does seem to keep us busy and out of trouble. Let nothing divide us, we will work things out in this rich tapestry of diversity. Let us be a community that can say "If you want to live in peace, come and live with us.'

Brian Slowiak  

Posted: October 15th, 2017 8:02 AM

Isnt this the same school where just a few years ago an administrator held minority assembly at the school barred white students from attending? It would be interesting to do a side by side review of the two cases to gauge reaction,outcry follow up,,disposition just to get a clear picture of where the school is at.A little journalistic investigation maybe.

Alex Garcia  

Posted: October 15th, 2017 6:49 AM

John: I don't see anyone defending threats of violence, in a letter or otherwise. What I do see is that plenty of folks shaking their heads in amusement and disgust as Oak Park once again descends into a self-imposed drama of identity politics. I'm sure that the nextsame steps in this drama will be a community forum on race, marches, more sensitivity training and acts of contrition over "privilege". I'm sure that more "community activists" looking for their 15 minutes of fame will also materialize.

Jason Cohen  

Posted: October 14th, 2017 4:03 PM

It's really great how some in our community decide the outrage over a letter threatening our kids isn't the problem here. The problem is somehow something we don't even know is related and even if it is so what. That somehow gives people the right to threaten violence? You people are really disgusting.

Bruce Kline  

Posted: October 14th, 2017 1:12 PM

Hey Rob, this is classic identity politics ... by color or sex or whatever. Rather than unify it divides. Whether that is the goal or not, I don't know. But that is always the outcome.

Rob Ruffulo  

Posted: October 14th, 2017 5:07 AM

Is there a White Leaders Union? Seperating groups by color creates division, not unity.

Alex Garcia  

Posted: October 14th, 2017 3:53 AM

This whole episode is comical. Self-appointed community activists and the usual cacophony of Oak Park virtue signalers turned a minor and resolvable incident into a tortured drama.

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