Actor Jussie Smollett was charged Wednesday for filing a false police report. On Thursday, Chicago police Superintendent Eddie Johnson held an emotional press conference, saying he was offended and angered by Smollett’s hoax.
Johnson shamed Smollett for exploiting racism, homophobia, and manipulating the painful symbol of a noose to further his career and public profile. Police say it is now clear that Smollett concocted the false story because he was dissatisfied with his salary.
“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 claims?” Johnson said. “Bogus police reports cause real harm. They do real harm to every legitimate victim who is in need of support by police and investigators.”
“The accusations behind this phony attack received national attention for weeks — celebrities, news commentators, and even presidential candidates weighed in on something choreographed by an actor,” police said of #JussieSmollett, who claimed he was attacked by Trump supporters pic.twitter.com/ZklRheaslc
— POLITICO (@politico) February 21, 2019
A week before the alleged attack, Smollett reported receiving a threatening letter with a white powder at the Fox production studios in Chicago. When that stunt failed to receive attention, Smollett orchestrated the attack by paying two brothers he knew $3,500 to assault him while getting food around 2 a.m.
In the weeks following the alleged incident, Chicago police spent hours poring over security footage and devoting resources that could have been put toward real victims––like the 1-year-old baby who was shot twice in the head last week on Chicago’s South Side.
“I just wish that the families of gun violence in this city got this much attention, because that’s who really deserves the amount of attention that we’re giving to this particular incident,” Johnson said.
Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson: "I just wish that the families of gun violence in this city got this much attention, because that's who really deserves the amount of attention that we're giving to this particular incident." https://t.co/5AiMcfe6iH pic.twitter.com/Xy5yYUTTJg
— ABC News (@ABC) February 21, 2019
Johnson said he is also concerned that real hate crimes will now be met publicly with skepticism:
“I’m also concerned about what this means moving forward for hate crimes. Now of course, the Chicago Police Department all reports of these types of incidents with the same amount of vigor that we did with this one. But my concern is that now hate crimes will publicly be met with a level of skepticism that previously didn’t happen.”
He also called out the circus of media figures who rushed to make Smollett’s report a national story:
“This publicity stunt was a scar that Chicago didn’t 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.”
Watch the full press conference here.