Southern Poverty Law Center rebukes CPD for lack of action for officers tied to Oath Keepers

ByChuck Goudie and Barb Markoff, Christine Tressel and Tom Jones WLS logo
Wednesday, May 15, 2024
Southern Poverty Law Center decries CPD decision not to punish officers tied Oath Keepers
The Southern Poverty Law Center is pushing back on the decisions by the Chicago Police Department not to punish officers found to be affiliated with the Oath Keepers.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A powerful civil rights group is demanding strong action by the Chicago Police Department against at least eight officers who have been connected to the ultra-right wing group the Oath Keepers, who have been the focus of January 6 U.S. Capitol violence.

The Southern Poverty Law Center is pushing back against CPD's lack of action against officers found to be affiliate with the Oath Keepers. Several city council members have signed onto the letter the SPLC sent Tuesday to Mayor Brandon Johnson and CPD Superintendent Larry Snelling.

"The Chicago Police Department that is called to protect the safety of all residents. When we have members that are associated with hate speech, extremism and hate crimes. We do think is important that there is an independent investigation," said Ald. Byron Sigcho-Lopez.

The SPLC letter rips a police internal investigation of how deep the roots are between a handful of known officers and the January 6 riot activities of the Oath Keepers.

More than a year ago, the I-Team reported that pressure was mounting on police to publicly identify officers with links to radical, violent hate groups, including the Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys.

A half dozen officers have admitted to joining the Oath Keepers to CPD internal affairs investigators, and others have been connected to far-right organizations known for hate positions and violence. But the SPLC says police officials and the mayor are not doing enough investigate the officers who are aligned with racist and extremist groups.

SPLC is demanding public hearings by the Chicago City Council, and increased transparency, especially before this summer's Democratic National Convention.

"We cannot have any kind of discrimination when it comes to public safety. Every resident the city of Chicago deserves to be safe on their homes, in whatever they are, again, with the Pride Parade coming. We are really concerned about these threats. On the LGBTQ community again, and these groups Oath Keepers and Proud Boys are very clear in their positions, discriminating and providing hate and promoting hate speech against LGBTQ communities or other minorities. So we do believe that it's critical that there is a full investigation," Sigcho-Lopez said.

The letter from the SPLC is also blasts police investigative methods, suggesting the department gave only scant attention to allegations against officers and didn't seriously pursue whether they had done anything wrong.

There has been no immediate comment from city police or the mayor's office.