Shock and anger. That was the reaction of many throughout the country when it was announced Tuesday that all felony charges of filing a false report against “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett would be dropped after he alleged he had been the victim of a hate crime.
The nation rallied behind Smollett when news broke of the alleged hate crime.
The alleged crime was disturbing: Two masked men shouted racial and anti-gay slurs and poured bleach on Smollett, beat him and then looped a rope around his neck.
Smollett claimed they shouted “This is MAGA country,” referencing President Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” campaign slogan.
Later, it was disclosed that Smollett reportedly paid the two men to attack him. One of them had reportedly worked on “Empire” and took part in the attack because of their friendship.
When the news broke of the charges being dropped, there was little explanation given.
Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx explained her decision in a commentary in the Chicago Tribune on Friday. Her words are concerning, to say the least, and show she may have had an ulterior motive in dropping the charges.
In the commentary she wrote: “Our criminal justice system is at its best when jails are used to protect us from the people we rightly fear, while alternative outcomes are reserved for the people who make us angry but need to learn the error of their ways without seeing their lives irrevocably destroyed.”
If it was cut-and-dried a matter of evidence, that would make sense.
But based on the commentary, it appears that the state’s attorney is using this case to prove a point, that in her eyes people shouldn’t be behind bars unless they are a violent criminal.
In the commentary Foxx writes: “I was elected on a promise to rethink the justice system, to keep people out of prison who do not pose a danger to the community. I promised to spend my office’s finite resources on the most serious crimes in order to create communities that are both safer and fairer … Our community is safer in every sense of the word when murderers and rapists are locked away. But we can’t allow fearmongers to devalue the tremendous progress we’ve made in the last year.”
Murderers and rapists need to be behind bars. But they are not the only ones. Resources are limited, and anyone who thinks they can waste police resources to falsely report a false crime — especially if, as alleged, it was in an effort to enhance their career — needs to be prosecuted. Yes, Smollett will have to pay financially for the crime. But when you have money, a fine doesn’t mean as much as time behind bars.
In the commentary, Foxx writes that she would welcome a nonpolitical review of how her office handled the investigation. Trump was right to call for the FBI and Department of Justice to review the case.
Smollett should not be cleared because of money or political posturing. The country deserves to know the facts in this case. And justice must be served. If there is not enough evidence, then that is something a jury should decide.