Chicago Mayor, Police Outraged at Prosecutors for Dropping Smollett Charges: 'Whitewash of Justice'

March 26, 2019

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel (D.) and Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson blasted the decision by state prosecutors to drop the charges against actor Jussie Smollett Tuesday after he was accused of perpetrating a fake hate crime against himself.

The state attorney's office said it took into account the evidence and Smollett's "volunteer service in the community and agreement to forfeit his bond to the City of Chicago," in the amount of $10,000. A judge sealed the records of the case.

At a press conference, Emanuel and Johnson expressed outrage over the decision, with Johnson reiterating his call last month for Smollett to apologize for what he said was a selfish attempt to further his career by pretending to be the victim of racist Donald Trump supporters. Johnson said he found out about the state's attorney's office dropping the case when the rest of the media did.

"Do I think justice was served? No," Johnson said. "What do I think justice is? I think this city is still owed an apology."

Johnson said he supported the work of the detectives who investigated the case, and Emanuel said a grand jury had indicted Emanuel on the 16 disorderly conduct charges with only a "piece of the evidence."

He also noted the $10,000 bond forfeited by Smollett didn't come close to reimbursing the city for the resources employed to investigate his hoax claim.

Smollett, who is black and gay, said for weeks that two men recognized him from his show Empire in the middle of the night on Jan. 29, yelled racist and homophobic slurs, beat him up, poured bleach on him, and placed a noose around his neck. Investigators later said Smollett paid two brothers he knew to perform the attack, as part of an effort to get a pay raise on Empire.

Emanuel was disgusted by what he framed as Smollett making a mockery of hard-won hate crime laws. He called the judge's decision to seal the case and not make the volume of evidence against the actor public a "whitewash."

"Where is the accountability in the system? You cannot have, because of a person's position, one set of rules apply to them and another set of rules apply to everybody else," he said. "Because of the judge's's decision, none of that evidence will never be made public. None of it. This is, without a doubt, a whitewash of justice and sends a clear message that if you're in a position of influence and power, you'll get treated one way. Other people will be treated another way. There is no accountability then, in the system. It is wrong, full stop."

Johnson said if he was an innocent person, he would not "hide behind a brokered deal and secrecy."

"From top to bottom, it's not on the level," Emanuel said, going on to say Smollett "committed this false claim."

"A grand jury saw the evidence, realized this was a hoax, a hoax on the city, a hoax on hate crimes, a hoax on people of good values," he said.

Emanuel was formerly in the U.S. House of Representatives and also served as President Barack Obama's first White House chief of staff.