Chicago Police Tied To Hate Groups Proud Boys And Oath Keepers Won’t Face Discipline, Officials Say

The Chicago Police Department’s probe into officers who have documented ties to far-right groups like the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers, who have been tied to the Jan. 6 insurrection, has concluded with no disciplinary action taken. The investigation is the third such investigation to conclude with no discipline for the officers investigated.

As WTTW reports, although Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson made holding officers of the CPD accountable one of his primary campaign promises, he also stated at a May 3 press conference that there remain “very few courses of action that can be taken” without evidence collected from investigators. Even an admission of being members of the Proud Boys or Oath Keepers doesn’t merit discipline from the CPD, which Chicago Police Supt. Larry Snelling defended at the press conference by saying, “I can tell you that we have reached out to everyone, our internal affairs division has reached out to everyone, to gather information to determine if these officers were actually proven to be members of hate groups.”

Snelling added, “So that information will be there for everyone to read.”

In October 2022, Inspector General Deborah Witzburg recommended that the CPD fire an officer who lied about his ties to the Proud Boys, but instead of acting on her recommendation, CPD officials suspended the officer for 120 days. CPD officials subsequently rejected another recommendation from Witzburg in January 2024 to fire another officer who admitted to being a member of the Oath Keepers. According to Witzburg’s report, the officer “admitted to being a former member of the Oath Keepers, having joined in 2010 or 2011 and having been a member for three to four years.” Department officials ruled that the allegations against the officer were “not sustained” despite his own admission of membership in the far-right group. 

WBEZ reports that the probe indicates that the officers were recruited to the far-right organization and paid to be members of the group, which they allege lends credence to claims that the department is lenient on officers who are investigated for ties to extremist groups. Most of the officers who were investigated told the CPD investigators of their ties to the organizations in February, who wrote in the closing report, “at some point each of them provided their information in order to gain more information or join a group called the Oath Keepers.”

The investigators also added, “Most of the accused officers had very limited to no interaction with the Oath Keepers after the initial signup.” None of the officers being investigated admitted to attending any Oath Keepers events. During an earlier investigation of another officer that had signed up for the Oath Keepers, the CPD investigation of that officer concluded that being in an extremist organization is in “itself is not a rule violation.” Witzburg, however, according to WBEZ, has previously argued that involvement in these groups violates the department’s policy against discrediting the department and undermining its goals. Witzburg has been extremely critical of how the CPD has conducted its investigations regarding extremist influence in the department in the past. 

The Southern Poverty Law Center voiced its displeasure with the CPD investigation and declared it a violation of the citizens of Chicago’s social contract with their police force. “Every time Chicagoans demand police accountability, nothing happens,” Jeff Tischauser, a Chicago-based senior researcher with the SPLC, said. “It is utterly disappointing that Supt. Snelling and the Chicago Police Department Bureau of Internal Affairs closed these cases and did not sustain any allegations.”

Tischauser continued, “These officers with these ties to hate and extremist groups tarnish the reputation of CPD. How can we trust any Chicago police officer when their leaders allow officers with ties to hate and extremist groups to go unpunished?”

RELATED CONTENT: Proud Boys Leader Enrique Tarrio Gets 22 Years in Prison For Role In Jan. 6 Capitol Riots

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