Chicago’s mayor and police force are unhappy with the news that the Cook’s County Attorney has dropped all charges against Empire-star Jussie Smollett relating to his filing of a false police report after an alleged hate crime attack.
Following the announcement on Tuesday morning that Smollett would have all 16 felony counts of disorderly conduct dropped in exchange for community service and the forfeiture of his $10,000 bond to the city, officials for the city of Chicago, including the city’s mayor and law enforcement officers, were both shocked and angered with the Cook County Attorney’s decision. Speaking to reporters at Navy Pier following public statements from Smollett and his legal team, Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson stated that he did not believe justice had been served:
“Do I think justice was served? No. What do I think justice is? I think this city is still owed an apology, and let me digress for a moment. When I came on this job, I’ve been a cop now for about 31 years. When I came on this job, I came on with my honor, my integrity, and my reputation. If someone accused me of doing anything that would circumvent that, then I would want my day in court, period. To clear my name. I’ve heard that they wanted their day in court with TV cameras so America could know the truth, but no, they chose to hide behind secrecy and broker a deal to circumvent the judicial system.”
Johnson was also joined by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel, who decried the decision while furiously lambasting Smollett for abusing hate crime laws such as the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, calling the development “a white-wash of justice”:
“I think there are two things, three things I’d like to say. One, on financial cost, this $10,000 doesn’t even come close to what the city spent in resources to actually look over the cameras, gather all the data, gather all the information that actually brought the indictment by the grand jury on many, many multiple different charges.
Second, is what I would call the ethical cost. The ethical cost is as a person who was in the House of Representatives when we tried to pass the Shepard legislation that dealt with hate crimes, putting them on the books, that President (Barack) Obama then signed into law; to then use those very laws and the principles and values behind the Matthew Shepard hate crimes legislation to self-promote your career is a cost that comes to all the individuals.
Gay men and women who will come forward and one day say they were a victim of a hate crime who now will be doubted. People of faith — Muslim or any other religious faith who will be a victim of hate crimes; people of also of all walks of life, of backgrounds, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, now this casts a shadow of whether they’re telling the truth, and he did this all in the name of self-promotion. And he used the laws of the hate crime legislation that all of us collectively over years have put on the books to stand up to be the values that embody what we believe in.
This is a whitewash of justice. A grand jury could not have been clearer.”
Mayor Emanuel also harshly criticized Smollett for continuing to pronounce his innocence and appearing to completely refuse taking any personal responsibility for his actions:
“Mr. Smollett is still saying that he is innocent, still running down the Chicago Police Department.
How dare him? How dare him? After everybody saw — and I want to remind you — this is not the superintendent’s word against his. The grand jury, a sliver of the evidence and they came to a conclusion, as did the state’s attorney’s office. This is not the superintendent and the detectives, department, word against his.
And even after this whitewash, still, no sense of ownership of what he’s done. He says that in fact he is the wronged (person) in this case. This is an unbelievable, not just whitewash of justice, this a person now who’s been let off scot-free, with no sense of accountability of the moral and ethical wrong of his actions, from top to bottom, not only besmirching the name of the city.
But then I cannot stress that in a time when you have people bringing a moral equivalency in Virginia between bigots and those fighting bigotry, and you have a person using hate crime laws that are on the books to protect people, who are minorities, from violence, to then turn around and use those laws to advance your career and your financial reward. Is there no decency in this man?”
Anthony Guglielmi, the Chief Communications Officer for the Chicago Police who became an important figure during the development of the Smollet investigation by communicating with the public and providing updates, stood by the department’s investigation and pointed to the odd nature of Smollett’s ruling:
Chicago police detectives did an excellent investigation and their work was reaffirmed by an independent grand jury who brought 16 criminal counts. In our experience, innocent individuals don’t forget bond & perform community service in exchange for dropped charges. https://t.co/P9rsvUMwwZ
— Anthony Guglielmi (@AJGuglielmi) March 26, 2019
Area Central Detective Cmdr. Edward Wodnicki, the officer in charge of the detectives who performed the investigation, noted that he was shocked that the state’s attorney’s office dropped the charges without discussing the option with Chicago Police:
“It’s a punch in the gut. It’s absolutely a punch in the gut. We worked very, very closely throughout our three-week investigation to get to the point where we arrested the offender. So for the state’s attorney’s office at this point to dismiss the charges … without discussing this with us at all is just shocking.”
Despite the harsh criticism leveled at the actor and the outrage being expressed by Chicago officials and the general public, the twitter account for the Empire writing team praised the dropping of the charges with a tweet seemingly taunting anyone who believed Smollett was guilty of the hoax:
😉 see y’all Wednesday. #empire #empirefox pic.twitter.com/jQUtsHcQBF
— Empire Writers (@EmpireWriters) March 26, 2019
What do you make of the Chicago police and Rahm Emmanuel’s reaction to the State’s Attorney dropping charges against Empire actor Jussie Smollett? Do you think the Empire Writers Twitter account reaction was appropriate?