Prosecutors in Chicago stunned the nation Tuesday by dropping all charges against actor Jussie Smollett while still asserting that Smollett faked a hate crime against himself and cost the Chicago Police Department hundreds of hours and hundreds of thousands of dollars to investigate the case.
“We did not exonerate Mr. Smollett. The charges were dropped in return for Mr. Smollett’s agreement to do community service and forfeit his $10,000 bond to the City of Chicago. Without the completion of these terms, the charges would not have been dropped. This outcome was met under the same criteria that would occur for and is available to any defendant with similar circumstances,” said Tandra Simonton of the Cook County State’s Attorney Office.
Law professor and attorney Horace Cooper, who is also co-chair of the black conservative Project 21 Advisory Board, is appalled by the decision.
“There is nothing I have witnessed in my time…where a prosecution is completely dropped – not deferred but completely dropped – without an acknowledgement of some sort of act of contrition and without any new information coming in to call into question the substance of the original allegations,” said Cooper.
Cooper further asserts the Smollett case proves there is unfair privilege in the U.S., just not in the way that many activists suggest.
“What’s revealing to some people is that this differential between what happens with main street Americans and those who are penthouse Americans: it isn’t actually a function of race. It is a function of wealth and status,” said Cooper.
He says news that former Michelle Obama chief of staff Tina Tchen spoke with prosecutors also proves his point.
“If you and I were charged, the former first lady’s lawyer’s friends will not be calling on our behalf. There is nothing like this for main street America,” added Cooper.
Even Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel blasted the decision to drop the charges, pointing out that a grand jury agreed to charge Smollett on 16 counts after seeing just a fraction of the evidence. He’s also aghast that Smollett was allowed to go free and once again proclaim his innocence.
Cooper points out that Smollett had the opportunity to plead guilty to one count on the initial indictment and likely walk away with a slap on the wrist. It was only after the actor doubled down on his story that the grand jury returned 16 counts against him.
Listen to the full podcast to hear Cooper explain what option the Chicago Police Department can still pursue in the courts, and why he believes hate crime laws are a bad idea and actually encourage people to play the victim even when no crime has occurred.