CHICAGO (CBS)–Allegations that actor Jussie Smollett fabricated a crime with racial and homophobic undertones caused harm for the City of Chicago, a visibly angry Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said Thursday, the day after police charged Smollett with disorderly conduct alleging he made a false police report.
The allegedly made-up Jan. 29 hate crime, which police allege Smollett staged for publicity, was centered on race and sexual orientation—Smollett is black and gay.
Those attributes are tied to a significant number of hate crimes reported each year in Chicago.
Statistics show hate crimes, commonly fueled by race and/or sexuality, are prevalent in the city, even though those types of crimes declined last year, according to FBI data.
The number of hate crimes reported in Chicago in 2017 (the last year for which data was available) fell from the year before, according to the FBI.
In 2017, the city had 41 reported hate crimes fueled by race, religion, sexual orientation and gender identity. Chicago saw 51 such crimes the previous year, the FBI says.
Reacting to Smollett’s claim that a noose was thrown around his neck, Johnson said he struggled to understand how a black man could make up an alleged lie hinged on his race and sexuality, in a city historically aggravated by racial divisions.
“Chicago hosts the largest pride parades in the world,” Johnson said while speaking to reporters Thursday, hours before Smollett appeared in bond court at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse. “We do not nor will we ever tolerate hate in our city; whether based on orientation, race, or anything else.”
Nationwide, hate crimes actually went up in 2017.
In 2017, a total of 7,175 hate crime incidents were reported in the U.S., with 2,013 committed against African Americans and 679 of them against gay men.
The previous year, America saw about 1,000 less hate crimes with 6,121 total reported by the FBI. Of the total hate crimes reported in FBI statistics, black individuals were targeted in 1,739 of those cases and gay men were the subject of 675 hate crimes.
Johnson said Smollett’s staged attack “dragged Chicago’s reputation through the mud.”
“It’s shameful because it painted the city in a negative connotation,” Johnson said. “To insinuate a hate crime of that nature when he knew it would get some attention, makes you wonder what’s going through someone’s mind.”
The results of a Freedom of Information Act request sent to Chicago police for information on the involvement of race and sexuality in reported hate crimes across the city were not yet available.