Leaders believe new Smollett charges aim to destroy State’s Attorney’s re-election
Crusader Staff Report
A new wave of criminal charges against Empire Actor Jussie Smollett on Tuesday, February 11, sparked intense emotions in the city’s Black community, where its leaders are lining up in support of Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx.
The news lit up radio airwaves and conversations in Black neighborhoods as the story once again made national headlines across the nation. WVON’s Perri Small spent the next morning talking about it on her show. Black clergy condemned the move and rallied around Foxx as her political career became uncertain.
Foxx spent Tuesday morning at the Leighton Criminal Courts building, shaking hands with 12 Black men and women whose criminal convictions were vacated by Judge Leroy Martin.
Foxx, the first Black female Cook County State’s Attorney, was gaining momentum in her bid for re-election with a string of political endorsements for the March 17 Primary when special prosecutor Dan Webb stunned her, announcing that Smollett was indicted on six felony charges for allegedly staging a hate crime against himself in the Streeterville neighborhood a year ago.
The announcement was also viewed as a scathing indictment of Foxx, one that aimed to destroy her re-election hopes with just over a month left before the Democratic Primary. Her opponents renewed calls for her resignation while critics stepped up their attacks on her credibility. On the popular website patch.com, many readers in the comment section said Foxx should resign.
Meanwhile, Black leaders attacked the timing of new charges by Webb as Foxx heads into the last leg of her political campaign.
Webb was appointed special prosecutor by a Cook County judge after Foxx’s office dropped all 16 charges against Smollett months after the Chicago Police Department failed to find any evidence that supported the actor’s claim that he was attacked by two homophobic men in the early morning hours of January 29, 2019.
Smollett performed community service at Reverend Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow PUSH Coalition headquarters in Hyde Park after he forfeited his $10,000 bond money.
Foxx claimed to have recused herself from the case, but critics have since attacked her integrity, accusing her of giving a sweetheart deal to a celebrity. The city filed a lawsuit, demanding he repay the $130,000 in overtime paid to officers who investigated the case.
The story had simmered for nearly a year, but came to a boil on Tuesday, one day after the Sun Times gave Foxx a surprise endorsement of her campaign.
In a three-page letter, Webb said despite claims that Smollett’s case was handled like similar low-level felony cases involving non-celebrity defendants, his investigators said the state’s attorney’s office was unable to show “documentary evidence,” that the case was typical. Webb said he found that the case against Smollett was strong, and that the state’s attorney’s office provided no documentation to show any new evidence that emerged between Smollett’s arrest and the time when the charges were dropped on March 26, 2019.
Foxx released a statement in response to the new charges.
“The Cook County State’s Attorney’s office charged Jussie Smollett with multiple counts, and today the Special Prosecutor did the same. What’s questionable here is the James Comey-like timing of that charging decision, just 35 days before an election, which can only be interpreted as the further politicization of the justice system, something voters in the era of Donald Trump should consider offensive,” the Foxx campaign wrote.
Foxx’s statement referenced former FBI Director James Comey announcing the reopening into the investigation of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s emails less than two weeks before the 2016 election.
At a press conference with prominent Black clergy who endorsed Foxx, Reverend Dr. Otis Moss of the Trinity United Church of Christ, agreed.
“It’s very interesting that Dan Webb at this moment, as we’re about a month away from an election, is now offering charges. This seems very similar to when James Comey intervened in reference to the national election,” Moss said. “And so we are seeing at this moment some politicization of this particular election.”
At the press conference, the Black ministers chanted “Four more years!” and said Foxx delivered on her promise to implement criminal justice reforms in Cook County.
“We support Attorney Foxx because she is more qualified than other candidates,” said Reverend Janette Wilson of Operation Rainbow PUSH.
Smollett is due back in court February 24th to answer the new charges.