CHICAGO – The city’s police union and the Rev. Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow/PUSH Coalition are planning competing demonstrations Monday in downtown Chicago to express their divergent opinions on Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx and her office’s handling of disorderly conduct charges against “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett.
The Chicago Fraternal Order of Police plans to hold a protest outside Foxx’s office, which has faced criticism from law enforcement, national and Illinois prosecutor groups, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and other politicians for its handling of the Smollett case.
Meanwhile, Jackson announced that he and other clergy and civil rights activists plan to hold their own rally downtown to express support for Foxx, who Jackson says has become the victim of “unreasonable, unjustified and politically motivated” criticism.
Foxx said she recused herself from the Smollett investigation and tapped her first deputy, Joseph Magats, to oversee the case, which was spurred by the actor’s report to authorities on Jan. 29 that he was the victim of a racist, homophobic attack.
Foxx said that she ceded control of the case to her deputy because she had traded text and email message with Tina Tchen, prominent attorney and former Michelle Obama chief of staff, and an unnamed Smollett relative before the actor was charged.
Weeks after the alleged attack, police announced that they had charged Smollett with disorderly conduct for filing a false police report. They alleged that Smollett paid two brothers he worked with on the set of “Empire” to help him stage the incident.
Less than three weeks after a grand jury returned an indictment, Foxx’s office announced last week prosecutors had reached a deal with Smollett in which they agreed to drop the charges, and the actor agreed to forfeit $10,000 he put up for bond to secure his release following his February arrest.
Smollett has maintained his innocence, and his attorneys say the prosecutor’s office has “flip-flopped” on details of the arrangement.
The deal also spurred recriminations, including from the police union. Kevin Graham, the president of the Chicago police union, announced after the charges that he would ask for a Justice Department investigation of the handling of the case.
“First, falsely reporting a hate crime is a dangerous and unlawful act, and Smollett was not exonerated of that in this case,” Foxx wrote in the Tribune op-ed. “Second, our criminal justice system is at its best when jails are used to protect us from the people we rightly fear, while alternative outcomes are reserved for the people who make us angry but need to learn the error of their ways without seeing their lives irrevocably destroyed.”
Jackson said the union was demonstrating misplaced anger by protesting Foxx, who is up for re-election in less than a year.
“We appeal to the FOP not to polarize the city,” Jackson said. “Kim Foxx is a force for good and an agent of change.”
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