Chicago prosecutor Kim Foxx is standing by her controversial decision to drop all charges against actor Jussie Smollett, saying that he did not receive any special treatment in the case and hinting there may be an ulterior motive for her critics.
Smollett became the center of a nationwide controversy when police in Chicago said he had faked an attack against himself. Smollett had originally claimed that he was attacked and beaten by two masked men shouting slogans in support of Donald Trump, and that the attackers doused him in a chemical and placed a noose around his neck.
The attack led to widespread support for Smollett, with fellow actors and politicians coming together to condemn what appeared to be a hate crime.
But police later said that the Empire actor had actually arranged the attack with a pair of friends, ultimately charging him with making a false report. Smollett was facing the possibility of years in prison when Foxx abruptly and without warning dropped the charges against the actor, drawing widespread criticism and rebukes even from the mayor of Chicago and the police chief.
Appearing at Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr.’s Rainbow Push Coalition, Foxx defended her decision and hinted that much of the criticism stemmed from the fact that she is a black woman.
“I have been asking myself for the last two weeks what is this really about,” she said, via The Associated Press. “As someone who has lived in this city, who came up in the projects of this city to serve as the first African-American woman in this role, it is disheartening to me … that when we get in these positions somehow the goalposts change.”
Foxx also pointed out that her office dropped charges for close to 6,000 low-level defendants who received what she called “deferred prosecution.”
As his charges were dropped, Jussie Smollett was ordered to pay $130,000 to cover the costs of overtime that Chicago police officers spent in overtime investigating the case. But as NBC News reported, a lawyer for the actor said he would not be paying, saying that Smollett would not be intimidated into paying when he still maintains his innocence.
“Your letter constitutes part of a course of conduct intended to harass and irreparably injure Mr. Smollett,” lawyer Mark Geragos wrote in a letter. “Your letter is both factually and legally flawed, and Mr. Smollett will not be intimated into paying the demanded sum.”