Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Jussie Smollett Case: ‘This Is a Whitewash of Justice’

By Melanie Arter | March 26, 2019 | 8:18pm EDT
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson (Photo by Joshua Lott/Getty Images)

( – Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson expressed outrage Tuesday at the news that the case against “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett was dropped.

“I’m sure we all know what occurred this morning. My personal opinion is that you all know where I stand on this. Do I think justice was served? No. What do I think justice is? I think this city is still owed an apology,” Johnson said.


He said if someone accused him of doing something that would call into question his honor, reputation, or integrity, he would want his day in court to clear his name.

“I’ve heard that they wanted their day in court with TV cameras so America could know the truth, but no, they chose to hide behind secrecy and broker a deal to circumvent the judicial system. My job as a police officer is to investigate an incident, gather evidence, gather the facts, and present them to the state’s attorney. That’s what we did. I stand behind the detectives’ investigation,” Johnson said.



Emanuel called the prosecution’s decision to drop all charges against Smollett “a whitewash of justice.

“This is a whitewash of justice. A grand jury could not have been clearer,” Emanuel said. He said the $10,000 bond that Smollett forfeited doesn’t cover the cost of the investigation.

“Where is the accountability in the system? You cannot have because of a person’s position one set of rules apply to them and another set of rules apply to everybody else,” the mayor said.

Emanuel complained of “the ethical cost” to Smollett allegedly faking a hate crime.

“Second, is what I would call the ethical cost, and the ethical cost is as a person who was in the House of Representatives when we tried to pass the Shepard legislation dealing with hate crimes, putting them on the books that President Obama then signed into law,” the mayor said.

“To then use those very laws and the principles and values behind the Matthew Shepard hate crimes legislation to self-promote your career is a cost that comes to all the individuals – gay men and women who will come forward and one day say they were a victim of a hate crime who now will be doubted, people of faith – Muslim or any other religious faith who will be a victim of hate crimes, people that have also—of all walks of life and backgrounds – race, ethnicity, sexual orientation,” he said.

“Now this casts a shadow of whether they’re telling the truth, and he did this all in the name of self-promotion, and he used the laws of the hate crime legislation that all of us collectively over years have put on the books to stand up to be the values that embody what we believe in,” Emanuel said.

The mayor also compared the outcome of the Smollett case to the recent cases of celebrities using their money and influence to get their kids into college.

“In another way, you’re seeing this play out in the universities, where people pay extra to get their kids a special position in universities. Now you have a person because of their position and background who’s getting treated in a way that nobody else … that would ever get close to this type of treatment,” he said.

Emanuel said the city’s reputation was “dragged through the mud,” and he added that the grand jury made the decision to charge Smollett based on “a sliver of the evidence” from the police investigation.



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