Chicago Police Ford Police Interceptor Utility. (Asher Heimermann/Wikimedia)
Ten Chicago police officers with ties to the right-wing Oath Keepers group have been barred from testifying in court during their cases.
The Chicago officers are now on the “Brady/Giglio (Do Not Call List),” which aims to keep officers with credibility problems from being called as witnesses.
The list includes Officer Robert Bakker, a close associate of the Proud Boys, and Officer Kyle Mingari, who was photographed wearing a Three Percenters mask while on duty at a racial justice protest in 2020.
The police department’s Internal Affairs Bureau has come under heavy criticism for its handling of Bakker, who lied to investigators about his close ties to the neo-fascist Proud Boys, which has been accused of attacking Black churches.
Bakker eventually entered into a mediation agreement and was suspended for 120 days. Some Black leaders and aldermen called for Bakker’s termination from the police force, but Bakker is back patrolling Chicago’s streets.
The Oath Keepers and Proud Boys participated in the January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol in 2021. In May, Oath Keepers’ extremist group founder Stewart Rhodes was sentenced to 18 years in prison for orchestrating a plot that led to the attack of the U.S. Capitol building in an attempt to keep President Joe Biden out of the White House, after he won the 2020 presidential election against incumbent Donald Trump.
The next month after Rhodes’ conviction, four members of the Oath Keepers were sentenced on similar charges relating to the insurrection.
In September, Henry “Enrique” Tarrio, 39, the former national chairman of the Proud Boys, was sentenced to 22 years in prison for seditious conspiracy and other charges related to the breach of the U.S. Capitol.
His actions, and the actions of others, disrupted a joint session of the U.S. Congress that was in the process of ascertaining and counting the electoral votes related to the 2020 presidential election.
The Chicago Police Department has taken no action on officers with ties to those groups. But on the same day as the Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx’s announcement, the Community Commission for Public Safety and Accountability (CCPSA) announced a new policy that would ban officers from joining hate groups.
CCPSA said in light of a WBEZ investigation it reached out to the city’s Inspector General Deborah Witzburg to “investigate recent allegations of officer involvement with extremists or hate-based organizations.”
“Given the seriousness and urgency of this issue, we feel it’s important we vote on this policy today,” Commissioner Remel Terry said. “We will continue our work to ensure that the Chicago Police Department effectively implements this policy, monitors the implementation and provides regular reporting on the outcomes.”
The policy aims to define in detail which groups police should not join if they want to avoid discipline.
The policy expands on a departmental order that bans officers from joining and prohibiting them from participating in organizations that use force to deny others’ rights, achieve ideological goals or advocate for “systemic illegal prejudice, oppression or discrimination.”
The policy also prohibits membership in groups that “seek to overthrow, destroy, or alter the form of government of the United States by unconstitutional means.”
The banned organizations will be on a list in the police department’s counterterrorism bureau. However, the list would be kept from the public.
Foxx’s decision and the CCPSA came after WBEZ, the Sun-Times and the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project’s joint investigation reported that 27 current and former members of the Chicago Police Department were found on the membership rolls of the Oath Keepers. Records show some have faced serious misconduct complaints, including for accusations of using excessive force and making racist comments.
Pastor Ira Acree of the West Side Leaders Network said in a statement, “The Leaders Network, at the forefront of addressing this critical issue, has consistently brought insightful presentations to our monthly meetings. Since December 2022, distinguished speakers, such as Chicago Inspector General Deborah Witzburg, 25th Ward Alderman Byron Sigcho-Lopez and 29th Ward Alderman Chris Taliaferro, have shared their perspectives. Our involvement extends to participation in a City Hall hearing, chaired by the then-Public Safety Committee Chair Taliaferro.”