The Crusader Newspaper Group

Suspended Chicago officer with ties to Proud Boys reinstated

Robert Bakker, the Chicago police officer suspended 129 days for lying to investigators about his ties to the Proud Boys group, is back at work.

Responding to a Crusader email about Bakker’s employment status, a spokesperson for the Chicago Police Department on Monday, March 6, said Bakker “is active and currently in the reinstatement process.”

Bakker was suspended last October after a report from the Office of Inspector General determined Bakker “made a contradictory statement” about his participation in a Proud Boys chat group and lied about attending a Proud Boys-sponsored barbecue.

Under Departmental policy, officers who lie can be terminated from the force.

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.

Black leaders demanded Bakker be fired for his ties to the Proud Boys. His suspension became a heated topic during the mayoral campaign. During a mayoral forum on WTTW Channel 11 last month, candidates Paul Vallas, Aldermen Sophia King (4th) and Roderick Sawyer (6th) all said they would fire Bakker because of his affiliation with the Proud Boys. Mayor Lori Lightfoot said, “Of course we should not hire, we should not support, we should not retain any officer that is associated with any hate group.”

Chicago police officials began investigating Bakker after reports emerged in January 2022 showing he participated in chat logs planning meetings. Bakker was also invited to a Proud Boys event and used 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.

Screenshots revealed Bakker helped organize Proud Boys meetups in Lincoln Square and Andersonville and bragged about his access to “high police.”

According to the OIG report, the FBI labeled the Proud Boys “an anti-Semitic white supremacy organization.”

Bakker admitted that he took part in Proud Boys group chats, and the Police Department confirmed that Bakker was the subject of the aforementioned investigation.

Police Superintendent David Brown claimed investigators didn’t have enough evidence to prove Bakker “was a member of or was associated with Proud Boys or any other hate group.”

Bakker was initially suspended for only five days before he was allowed back on the street as a police officer. The Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights had previously sent a letter to Lightfoot, aldermen and Superintendent Brown, calling for harsher penalties for Bakker.

In November 2020, city Inspector General Deborah Witzburg wrote a letter asking the case to be reopened after investigators had overlooked incriminating evidence and noted that Bakker had made “inconsistent statements” to the FBI, as well as the Department’s Internal Affairs Bureau.

Witzburg and investigators concluded Bakker had made “contradicting statements” about his activity in Proud Boys’ chat channels and had made a “false statement” about attending a barbecue linked to the group.

Last October, Bakker was suspended for four months, but Black leaders and Alderman Chris Taliaferro said Bakker should have been fired.

Ira J. Acree, senior pastor of Greater St. John Bible Church, said at a press conference, “How can CPD justify allowing any hateful individuals to patrol our community? I demand the Department terminate this officer and all officers who associate with hate groups.”

Co-Chair Reverend Cy Fields, senior pastor of New Landmark Missionary Baptist Church, added, “They are a danger to America; they are called domestic terrorists.”

Last January, the Southern Poverty Law Center, a Civil Rights organization, blasted Lightfoot and Brown for keeping Bakker on the police force. In a blistering letter, Jeff Tischauser, a senior research analyst for the Law Center, called for Bakker’s termination.

“We urge the city to adopt clear and unambiguous policies and procedures prohibiting city employees from actively associating with hate and extremist groups,” Tischauser said. “We also believe Bakker should have been fired for his active participation in extremist activities – and then lying about it.”

During a heated City Council meeting in February, some elected officials supported a new policy that would ban officers from “posting, sharing, ‘liking,’ ‘following,’ or otherwise distributing or re-distributing content with the intent to promote, support or otherwise endorse a criminal organization or its activities.”

Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul and federal officials are reviewing the draft of the new policy, which would apply to the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers organizations, which National Public Radio reported has 13 active members in the Chicago Police Department, but the CPD officials denied that claim.

The Proud Boys was founded in 2016 when Donald Trump became the nation’s 45th president. In his campaign for the White House, Trump, during a nationally televised debate, refused to denounce white supremacy amid questions about his support from the Proud Boys.

Since the group’s founding, the Proud Boys have been accused of instigating street fights across the country, including the 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, where a white supremacist murdered counter-protester Heather Heyer in a vehicular homicide.

On December 12, 2020, after attending a pro-Trump rally, the Proud Boys marched around Washington, D.C., destroyed Black Lives Matter banners displayed from two historic Black churches, and then attacked perceived political enemies, which led to four people being stabbed.

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