Supporters and opponents of embattled Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx held dueling rallies in Chicago on Monday over the surprise dismissal of charges against “Empire” star Jussie Smollett last week — a decision that has divided the public, police and political leaders.
Protesters led by the Fraternal Order of Police in Chicago stood outside of Foxx’s office and chanted “Foxx must go!” and “lock her up!” while holding up signs demanding her resignation. Earlier in the day, Rev. Jesse Jackson, clergy, elected officials, attorneys and community activists held their own rally at the Chicago Temple to back Foxx.
Supporters of Foxx also joined protesters outside the attorney’s office by Monday afternoon.
The Cook County State’s attorney stunned the public after it was announced charges against Smollett for allegedly staging a racist and homophobic attack would be dropped. The decision was received with intense backlash from the public and from law enforcement officers.
Jackson has previously defended Foxx and the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, an organization that provided a letter of support for Smollett, stating the actor completed on-site community service.
The letter was cited in the court case Tuesday.
“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 Chicago Sun-Times. “You can’t have people just one incident away from being in oblivion.”
Smollett was arrested last month for allegedly staging the anti-gay, racist attack on himself in January, reportedly in a bid to promote his career. He vehemently denied the charges and insisted two men approached him, beat him, threw bleach on him and tied a rope around his neck before shouting, “This is MAGA country,” in reference to President Trump’s campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again.”
But after viewing surveillance footage of the alleged attackers buying items used in the alleged assault, investigators were able to determine the identities of the men — and found the Nigerian brothers had connections to Smollett. Before the case was suddenly dismissed, the men were reportedly ready to testify Smollett paid them to stage the attack.
The dropped charges infuriated Chicago police, who spent up to 1,000 hours investigating the case, and Emanuel, who dubbed Foxx’s decision a “whitewash of justice.”
Rev. Al Sharpton joined Jackson in defending the controversial attorney and called Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel a hypocrite for slamming Smollett.
“There is a marked difference between how they reacted to this and how they reacted to the Laquan McDonald case. They were not outraged when the video was withheld until after the mayor’s election,” Sharpton told the Chicago Tribune while referring to Emanuel, police Superintendent Eddie Johnson and other officials. “There was a fox in the henhouse then, but the fox wasn’t Kim then. The name of that fox was whoever was in the mayor’s race.”
The mayor’s spokesman, Matt McGrath, said Sharpton’s statement “isn’t worthy of a response.”
Foxx wrote in an op-ed for The Chicago Tribune on Friday that a third-party review into the high-profile case would help maintain transparency.
“I am not perfect, nor is any other prosecutor out there, but ensuring that I and my office have our community’s trust is paramount,” Foxx, who ran on a platform of transparency, wrote.
Fox News’ Barnini Chakraborty and The Associated Press contributed to this report.