The Blue Wall of Silence – isn’t silent so much anymore. On March 18th, Jacob Fracker, a former police officer from Rocky Mount, Virginia, pled guilty to felony conspiracy and took a plea for his role in the January 6th insurrection, testifying against his former boss and mentor at the Rocky Mount Police Department, Thomas Robertson. A week later, a federal jury would convict Robertson on all six counts with which he was charged.
Five felonies – one misdemeanor.
A statement on the DOJ website said:
“The jury found him guilty of five felonies: obstruction of an official proceeding, civil disorder, entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds while carrying a dangerous weapon, disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building while carrying a dangerous weapon, and tampering with a document or proceedings. He was also found guilty of the misdemeanor offense of disorderly conduct in a Capitol building.”
The combined sentencing maximum for all six charges is 65.5 yrs.
Fracker testified that he, Robertson, and a neighbor made the four-hour drive to Washington D.C. on the morning of January 6th. They rode complete with gas masks provided by Robertson and their police badges. Before heading to the Capitol, they participated in the rally to stop Biden’s certification.
Colleagues, co-conspirators, and now: convicted felons and former cops.
“In his plea, Fracker admitted that by the time he and Robertson entered the Capitol, they had agreed to attempt to impede, stop or delay the proceedings going on before Congress and that they aided, assisted, encouraged, and facilitated each other in the conduct.”
Taking pictures in the Capitol foyer isn’t all Robertson did that day. The “dangerous weapon” described in the federal indictment was a wooden walking stick — one that Robertson used to intimidate and confront officers doing their best to control the mob and protect the Capitol. A D.C. Metro officer testified to being hit. Prosecutors identified that man as Robertson. It was corroborated by the officer-worn bodycam footage that captured the assaults.
Their downfall? A photo taken on January 6th inside the Capitol building.
A picture was identified by a Rocky Mount resident familiar with the two officers – Bridgitte Craighead. But Craighead isn’t just an ordinary citizen, she is the founder of the city’s first Black Lives Matter chapter. The chapter was started after the murder of George Floyd by the disgraced and convicted murderer, ex-Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin.
Wanting to do more to stop police brutality, Craighead organized Rocky Mounts’s first BLM rally in June of 2020. It was attended by none other than Thomas Robertson and Jacob Fracker.
At the rally, Robertson and Fracker can be seen in photos with the activists; Fracker smiling, and Robertson holding up a sign that says “Silence Equals Violence”. Another photo shows Robertson standing in front of Craighead as she holds up a Black power fist behind him.
After seeing the photo of the officers whom she thought were allies, Craighead confronted them on Facebook. Fracker had made several posts glorifying the trip to Capitol Hill, as well as the riot that ensued.
Responding to Craighead in a post, Fracker said:
“I can protest for what I believe in and still support your protest for what you believe in. After all, I fought for your right to do it.”
Both Fracker and Robertson are military veterans.
In an ironic twist – call it karma, call it fate – Craighead is the one who turned the former cops into the FBI after recognizing them in the photo, setting in motion their arrests and subsequent convictions.
The arrests of two hometown heroes set in motion a series of events that would change all of their lives. Branded a “troublemaker,” Craighead received numerous death threats and was told that she was responsible for the town’s racial divide. Robertson became radicalized. Between his arrest — a week after the insurrection — and the summer of 2021, he would order several guns, silencers, and pipe bombs online, violating the rules of his release pending trial. When prosecutors went to court to have Robertson’s release revoked, an investigation recovered 37 firearms.
Both Robertson and Fracker await sentencing, to take place this summer. Both are facing hard time.
This is one more chapter — partially closed — on the road to justice for the five lives lost, the officers beaten, and a democracy broken on January 6th.
Follow Ty Ross on Twitter @cooltxchick
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