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Chicago police and Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Tuesday afternoon blasted the state’s attorney’s decision to drop all the charges against actor Jussie Smollett, who was accused of lying to police about a reported hate crime assault.
“This is a whitewash of justice,” a clearly angry Emanuel told reporters. “I’d like to remind everybody a grand jury indicted this individual based on only a piece of the evidence that the police had collected in that period of time. So a grand jury actually brought the charges.”
Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said he stood by his department’s work and believed the charges against the Empire actor were justified.
“So listen, I’m sure we all know what occurred this morning,” he said. “My personal opinion is that you all know where I stand in this. Do I think justice was served? No. I think this city is still owed an apology.”
He continued, “If someone accused me of doing anything that would circumvent [my integrity], then I would want my day in court. Period. I’ve heard that they [Smollett legal team] 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. My job as a police officer is to investigate an incident, gather evidence, gather the facts and present them to the State’s Attorney. That’s what we did. I stand behind the detective’s investigation.”
As for the $10,000 bond Smollett forfeited, the mayor said, “Ten thousand dollars doesn’t even come close to what the city spent in resources. And he did this all in the name of self-promotion.”
On the ethical cost of the case, Emanuel criticized Smollett for using the “laws and principles and values” behind the Matthew Shepard hate crimes legislation “to self-promote your career.”
He added it was a cost to all individuals, “gay men and women who will come forward and one day will say they were a victim of a hate crime and now will be doubted; people of faith, Muslim or any other faith, who will be a victim of hate crime; people of all walks of life, background, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, now this casts a shadow of whether they’re telling the truth.”
Even more fired up, the mayor said, “Where is the accountability from 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. In another way, you’re seeing this play out in universities where people pay extra to get their kids a special position in universities. Now you have a person because of their position and background treated in a way that nobody else would ever get close to this type of treatment.”
After the charges were officially dropped Tuesday morning, Smollet told reporters he always maintained his innocence and his story about what allegedly took place that night in January never changed.
That statement really seemed to sting Emanuel.
“Mr. Smollett is still saying that he is innocent, still running down the Chicago police department. How dare him. How dare him.” he said. “Even after this whitewash, still, no sense of ownership over what he has done. … This is a person now who has been let off scot-free with no sense of accountability of the moral and ethical wrong of his actions.”
Emanuel added, “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?”
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