Jesse Jackson is crying “fake news” over the outrage prompted by the Jussie Smollett case which he believes is “misplaced and out of proportion.”
The reverend made his appeal for people to move on from the scandal involving the “Empire” actor accused of staging a hate crime against himself, addressing the issue in a statement released on Friday demanding an end to the “politically motivated” attacks on Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx.
“The outrage over the Jussie Smollett case is misplaced and out of proportion,” Jackson said in a letter from the Rainbow PUSH Coalition. “It is being used from City Hall to the White House to deflect and distract from City Hall to the White House. It is fake news.”
“The voices that are crying out the loudest seem to have only recently found their sense of righteous indignation,” he added.
Jackson had reached out to Smollett soon after the bombshell report of the alleged attack in Chicago broke in January. The actor, who was charged with 16 felony counts in the incident, did meet up with Jackson and volunteered at Rainbow PUSH, which he also joined as a member, Jackson told the Chicago Sun-Times.
Prosecutors who ultimately dropped all of the charges against the actor this week cited his 16 hours of on-site community service with the Rainbow PUSH Coalition in the controversial decision. Jackson defended the letter of support from his progressive organization which was cited in the court case.
“PUSH has always been a house of refuge. It’s part of what we do, reaching out to people who are in distress, and we have done so in many high-profile cases over the years, from Sammy Davis Jr., when he hugged President Nixon and black folks turned against him, to Bobby Rush, after police tried to kill him in the Black Panthers raid,” Jackson told the Sun-Times.
“You can’t have people just one incident away from being in oblivion,” he added.
Jackson clarified that Smollett’s call to volunteer last week just before the charges were dropped was not part of any court mandate and claims he had no idea that the service would have any impact on the case.
“He worked to develop our choir,” Jackson said. “He worked in our studios. He worked on production. And he worked with kids in our tech program, teaching apps and codes and robotics.”
“I’m concerned about the inconsistencies of the criminal justice system. They’re saying he got a break because he’s well-known,” he added. “Well, the fact of the matter is prosecutors use discretion every day.”
In his statement Friday, Jackson cited issues in Chicago that need to be addressed, condemning the excessive attention the Smollett case has garnered.
“It is time to move on to the important issues facing our beloved city – the monumental mayor’s election on Tuesday, April 2, the persistent violence, intractable poverty, unequal urban development among them,” he said in conclusion. “We cannot, and we will not, allow ourselves to lose focus of the big picture: a just, fair and safe Chicago and Cook County for everyone.”
Jackson reiterated his views in an interview with WGN-TV which also highlighted Chicago residents who agreed that there are more important issues facing the city that need to be addressed.
Despite Smollett being indicted by a grand jury, the office of Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, who recused herself from the case in February, dropped the charges earlier this week. Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago police blasted the decision in scathing rebukes, releasing the complete 61-page investigative report in the alleged staged hate crime. The city is also billing the actor for $130,000 to cover overtime costs police incurred in the investigation.
Foxx could face up to 20 years in prison if corruption is found in the Smollett case, according to a former deputy assistant attorney general under the Bush administration.
Cook County state’s attorney Kim Foxx could face up to 20 years if corruption found in Smollett case, fmr. deputy AG says https://t.co/HBFCFbaWDZ
— Conservative News (@BIZPACReview) March 29, 2019
Smollett has not been exonerated, however, and further criminal charges can still be brought against him. A threatening letter Smollett claimed he received while on the “Empire” set is still under FBI investigation and could land the actor in prison for up to 10 years if he is found guilty of sending the hate mail laced with white powder days ahead of the staged attack.
President Trump announced on Thursday that FBI and the Department of Justice would be reviewingthe “outrageous” decision to drop the charges.