Chicago Police Department Superintendent Eddie Johnson minced no words when he addressed the arrest of “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett Thursday morning.
Johnson expressed his anger that Smollett’s reported attack, now being treated as a hoax allegedly planned and perpetrated by the actor himself, would distract attention from real crimes.
As I look out into the crowd, I just wish that the families of gun violence in the city got this much attention. Because that’s who really deserves the amount of attention that we have given to this particular incident. But this morning, I come to you not only as the superintendent of the Chicago police department, but also as a black man who spent his entire life living in the city of Chicago. I know the racial divide that exists here. I know how hard it has been for our city and our nation to come together. I also know the disparities, and I know the history.
Johnson went on to address Smollett personally, arguing that especially as a black man, he should have known better than to use the underlying problems the city already faces and twist them to advance his acting career. (RELATED: Jussie Smollett Arrested Over Hate Crime ‘Hoax’)
This announcement today recognizes that “Empire” actor, Jussie Smollett, took advantage of the pain and anger of racism to promote his career. I am left hanging my head and asking why? Why would anyone, especially an African-American man, use the symbolism of a noose, to make false accusations? How could someone look at the hatred and suffering associated with that symbol, and see an opportunity to manipulate that symbol to further his own public profile? How can an individual who has been embraced by the city of Chicago turn around and slap everyone in this city in the face by making these false bogus police reports cause real harm?
Smollett’s case made national news and rated comments from celebrities and even presidential candidates — and Johnson felt that only exacerbated the problem.
“I love the city of Chicago. And the Chicago Police Department,” he explained. “But this publicity stunt was a scar that Chicago did and earn and certainly didn’t deserve. To make things worse, the accusations within this phony attack received national attention for weeks. Celebrities, news commentators, and even presidential candidates weighed in on something that was choreographed by an actor.”
The superintendent’s conclusion was simple: Smollett’s actions would ultimately hurt legitimate victims. “They do harm to every legitimate victim who is in need of support by police and investigators as well as the citizens of the city,” he said.