CNN’s Van Jones compared "Empire" actor Jussie Smollett to Jackie Robinson on Thursday during a rant about how beneficial the actor has been to the “black community.”
Moments after Chicago cops laid out their case against Smollett, the CNN pundit made the eyebrow-raising comparison during a conversation with anchor Kate Bolduan.
“This is the fall of an icon and I don’t think people understand how important he has been in the black community. ‘Empire’ as a show, to have him as a beloved character, I think did a great deal to knock back homophobia in the black community,” Jones said. “The fact that he has been celebrated and you see homophobia in the black community through his eyes on the show, this is a Jackie Robinson against homophobia.”
Robinson famously broke Major League Baseball’s color barrier in 1947, becoming the first black player and was hit with an onslaught of racism in the process. His number, 42, is retired throughout MLB and he’s considered an American hero.
As for Smollett, 36, he is accused of orchestrating an elaborate hoax involving two "bogus" hate crimes -- one involving an alleged attack, and one involving a threatening letter -- all in order to get a pay raise.
Chicago police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said Smollett orchestrated a "phony attack" in order to take "advantage of the pain and anger of racism to promote his career" during a press conference on Thursday.
Fox News’ Sasha Savitsky contributed to this report.