Robert Bakker, a Chicago police officer with ties to the white supremacist group Proud Boys, won’t be fired. He will be suspended for four months, the city’s watchdog agency, Office of Inspector General, has announced.
Bakker was initially suspended for only three days before he was allowed back on the street as a police officer, after civil rights activists at the time forced the police department to conduct a thorough investigation. After his suspension, Bakker will be allowed back on the street.
In its latest quarterly report, the Office of Inspector General determined the police department investigation by its internal affairs bureau found that Bakker “made a contradictory statement” about his participation in a Proud Boys chat group and lied about attending a Proud Boys-sponsored barbecue, the Chicago Sun-Times newspaper reported.
Bakker admitted that he took part in Proud Boys group chats, and the police department confirmed that Bakker was, in fact, the subject of the investigation, according to the Associated Press.
The lengthy internal police department investigation was reportedly resolved through a “mediation agreement,” in which the officer agreed not to dispute the allegations against him, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
According to the Chicago Data Portal, Bakker is still employed as a full-time police officer with an annual salary of $95,586.
Chicago police officials began investigating Bakker after reports emerged in January showing that he participated in chat logs planning meetings as he was invited to a Proud Boys event and using threatening language to refer to progressive activists. The 2020 incident was reported in the online publication Vice.
Bakker wrote in the group chat, which was called “F— Antifa,” and said he would use his position as a police officer to identify and locate antifascist activists, according to the shared screenshots.
The screenshots also revealed that Bakker helped organize Proud Boys meetups in Lincoln Square and Andersonville and bragged about his access to “high police.” The Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights had previously sent a letter to Mayor Lori Lightfoot, aldermen and Superintendent David Brown, calling for harsher penalties for Bakker.
In the letter, the organization said, “The group regularly engages in violence against people and organizations that show support for racial and ethnic minorities, women, non-Christians, and immigrants. They have organized frequent rallies throughout the country and have appeared alongside other hate groups at violent gatherings, including the deadly “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017.”
The organization said at least 15 members or affiliates of the Proud Boys have been charged so far in connection with the January 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol; the Department of Justice has indicated in court filings that as many as 40 other Proud Boys actively conspired in advance of January 6.
The group is designated by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group and by the Canadian government as a terrorist entity.
At least one group leader has pleaded guilty of being involved in the January 6 insurrection. In April, Charles Donohoe, 34, of Kernersville, North Carolina, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding and assaulting, resisting or impeding officers.
As part of the plea agreement, Donohoe has agreed to cooperate with the government’s ongoing investigation. During one January 6 hearing in April, Donahue admitted that there was a plan to storm the Capitol to overturn the 2020 presidential election, which President Trump falsely claims was stolen after he lost to Joe Biden.
According to the OIG report, the FBI labeled the Proud Boys “an anti-Semitic white supremacy organization.”
During one presidential debate in 2020, President Donald Trump refused to denounce the Proud Boys when asked by moderator and Fox News Anchor Chris Wallace.
On December 12, 2020, members of the Proud Boys attacked and vandalized property of the Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church, a historic Black church in Washington, D.C., because of its congregants’ support for the Black Lives Matter movement. A lawsuit was filed in D.C. Superior court to hold the Proud Boys, its leadership and certain of its members accountable.
“White supremacists like the Proud Boys, would rather see the country burn than to see it united together under justice and freedom for all,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.
“Black churches and other religious institutions have a long and ugly history of being targeted by white supremacists in racist and violent attacks meant to intimidate and create fear.
“Our lawsuit aims to hold those who engage in such action accountable. We are proud to represent Metropolitan A.M.E., which has a long history of standing against bigotry and hate and whose courage and determination to fight back is a beacon of hope for the community.”