Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Thursday that the Jussie Smollett controversy “will never trump Chicago’s collective spirit” after the “Empire” actor was accused of orchestrating an elaborate hoax, including a fake attack against himself by Trump supporters.
“Chicago’s message to the world is that no matter where you come from, who you love, or how you pray you will always have a home here,” he said in a statement after praising police. “Our laws exist to reflect and defend those values, and hate crimes will never be tolerated.”
“A single individual who put their perceived self interest ahead of those shared principles will never trump Chicago’s collective spirit.”
Chicago police on Thursday laid out their accusation that Smollett orchestrated the incident that he had alleged happened at 2 a.m. on Jan 29, which he said involved two masked men beating him, putting rope around his neck and yelling: “This is MAGA country.”
But police said he paid two men $4,000 to fake a beating, and also sent himself a racist and homophobic letter because he was dissatisfied with his salary.
"I'm left hanging my head and asking why," a visibly upset Chicago police Superintendent Eddie Johnson told reporters. "Why would anyone, especially an African-American man, use the symbolism of a noose to make false accusations? How could someone look at the hatred and suffering associated with that symbol...how can an individual who has been embraced by the city of Chicago turn around and slap everyone in this city by making this false claim?"
Smollett, who is accused of filing a false police report, was charged Wednesday with felony disorderly conduct. He turned himself in at central booking early Thursday. If convicted, he is facing up to three years in prison.
In a statement to Fox News on Wednesday, Smollett's attorneys said the actor "enjoys the presumption of innocence, particularly when there has been an investigation like this one where information, both true and false, has been repeatedly leaked."
Emanuel, a former Obama chief of staff, had not dived into the controversy as deeply as some other Democrats, having given a somewhat more reserved statement at the time the alleged attack was reported.
““I know the police department is working aggressively,” he said, according to CBS News. “The alleged statement of what happened here is horrific, and there’s no place for it in the City of Chicago.”
Fox News' Sasha Savitsky contributed to this report.