CHICAGO (CBS) — Dueling opinions and dueling protests; groups supporting and opposing how the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office handled the Jussie Smollett case held rival demonstrations Monday morning in the Loop.
The rival events stem from Foxx’s office dropping all 16 counts of disorderly conduct against Smollett, after he performed two days of community service and forfeited his $10,000 bail. Chicago police had said Smollett lied to investigators about being the victim of a hate crime, when in fact he orchestrated a Jan. 29 attack against himself because the actor was angry about his salary on “Empire.”
Monday morning, the Chicago Fraternal Order of Police organized a protest outside State’s Attorney Kim Foxx’s office at 69 W. Washington St., calling for the county’s top prosecutor to step down, chanting “Foxx must go.”
Self-described police supporter Jason Womack said police “got thrown under the bus” when prosecutors dropped the case against Smollett.
Meantime, supporters of Foxx who earlier rallied across the street at Daley Plaza crossed Washington Street to stand outside the state’s attorney’s office, chanting “Foxx must stay.”
Community activist Ja’Mal Green said it was shocking to see the Fraternal Order of Police and supporters expressing outrage about Foxx’s office dropping a low-level felony case, when the Chicago Police Department’s murder clearance rate is only 15 percent.
“We’re worried about Jussie Smollett instead of finding those actual murderers that she can put to justice? That makes no sense” community activist Ja’Mal Green said. “That makes no sense that the 85% of murderers in the city of Chicago are roaming free, and they’re not talking about what the detective division in the police department should be doing, rather Kim Foxx not prosecuting a low-level felony that wouldn’t provide any jail time for him anyway.”
Some counter protesters claimed the people calling for Foxx’s resignation were doing so only because she is a black woman. Chicago FOP President Kevin Graham vehemently denied that.
“You cannot allow people to talk about people simply because of the color of their skin. That’s wrong, okay? I would never stand for that,” he said.
Foxx has defended her office’s handling of the case, saying there was nothing unusual about disposing of the case without a guilty plea, even though prosecutors stand by the decision to indict Smollett.
“This case was treated like the other cases that have gone through our alternative prosecution model. He was given the same opportunity that thousands of others with the same level of offense, and the same criminal background, have had. The same opportunity,” Foxx said last week.
Foxx said dropping the case doesn’t diminish the hard work detectives did to investigate the case and bring charges against Smollett.
“We are grateful for the work that they have done on this case, but this outcome is not an outlier to similarly situated cases. And I think it’s really important that we have that understanding, because this was an outcome that was not unexpected,” she said. “I think the way that it happened so quickly, people were taken aback by; but if we look at other disorderly conduct cases, and we look at how those cases were handled by our office, this outcome was not unexpected.”
According to Foxx, during her tenure since taking office in December 2016, her office has disposed of 5,700 felony cases through alternative prosecution. CBS 2 asked for examples of the similar cases Foxx’s office has disposed of in a similar manner to the Smollett case, but received only two.
The Chicago FOP has asked federal investigators to look into Foxx’s handling of the case. Foxx has said she welcomes any review of her office’s decision.