There is one storyline that I pray King Jesus lets us leave in 2019, and that is Jussie Smollett’s alleged hate crime hoax. Today, however, will not be that day.
Smollett, an R&B singer and former Empire actor, has filed a countersuit against Chicago police for malicious prosecution. As CBS News reports, Smollett says he was the victim of “mass public ridicule and harm” after police charged him with fabricating a racist, homophobic attack.
The allegations are in response to the city of Chicago’s suit against Smollett, which seeks to recover more than $130,000 the city claims it spent investigating the alleged hate crime. The 37-year-old Smollett maintains that he has been truthful about the January incident, in which he says two masked men physically attacked him and poured bleach on him while shouting homophobic and racist slurs. After an investigation into the high-profile crime, Smollett indicted on 16 counts of disorderly conduct in March; those charges were ultimately dropped by the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office.
The decision to drop those charges continues to tail State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, who is currently campaigning for re-election as the city’s top prosecutor. According to the Chicago Tribune, Foxx recently addressed the Smollett case in a digital ad.
“Truth is, I didn’t handle it well. I own that,” Foxx said. “I’m making changes in my office to make sure we do better. That’s what reform is about.”
It’s unclear what she means—both in the way of regret or reform. Foxx “recused” herself from the case when it went before her office, but not in the strictly legal sense.
From NBC News:
Foxx said she was advised to withdraw from the case based on unfounded rumors that she was related to the “Empire” actor, who was accused of faking a hate crime against himself. That explanation conflicts with the statement her office gave in February, which said she stepped aside due to conversations she had with a Smollett relative about the investigation.
Foxx has faced withering scrutiny over her handling of the case, and has been under pressure to explain why she did not formally recuse her entire office, which would have resulted in the appointment of a special prosecutor. In her statement on [May 31], Foxx said the decision was based on a false rumor — not on her own actions — and that she agreed to personally step aside due to the perception of a conflict.
There are plenty of good issues to press Foxx about with regard to her 2020 campaign—her plans to enact bail reform and to make the prosector’s office more transparent are worth following up on. Pressing her on Smollett—a high-profile but inconsequential crime (Chicago PD’s reputation was long tarnished before Smollett ever uttered a word about them)—just ain’t it.