Illinois Democratic Rep. Bobby Rush blasted the Chicago police union over the weekend as “the sworn enemy of black people,” pushing back at the controversy surrounding prosecutor Kim Foxx and her office's handling of the Jussie Smollett case.
During a press conference on Saturday, Rush, D-Ill., tore into Chicago’s Fraternal Order of Police after members of the union participated in protests demanding Cook County State's Attorney Foxx resign from her post.
“The FOP is the sworn enemy of black people, the sworn enemy of black people,” Rush said Saturday. “The FOP has always taken the position that black people can be shot down in the street by members of the Chicago Police Department, and suffer no consequences.”
He added: “Let’s be clear: Kim Foxx, her battle, is with the FOP and all of their cohorts.”
Rush’s comments came after hundreds of protesters, including members of the police union, gathered outside Foxx’s office last week. The union protesters were met with counter-protests from groups including the Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression, according to The Chicago Tribune. The Tribune also reported that members of white nationalist groups were at the union’s protest.
“The injection of white nationalists in this conversation for me, I will tell you personally, I was afraid,” Foxx said on Saturday. “I would certainly hope that the FOP and whatever their disagreements may be, whatever concerns that they may have about my ability or leadership, would at least expect the people of their union to not inject racism or white nationalists into the conversation.”
The union, though, told The Tribune Saturday that Rush’s comments were “ignorant, offensive, malicious and false.”
“These outrageous and irresponsible comments have demeaned each and every Chicago Police Officer, regardless of their race,” the union reportedly said.
Foxx has come under fire over her office’s decision to dismiss charges against Smollett following accusations he faked a hate crime. Foxx now claims the “Empire” star did not receive any special treatment.
“I have been asking myself for the last two weeks what is this really about,” Foxx said Saturday. “As someone who has lived in this city, who came up in the projects of this city to serve as the first African American woman in this role, it is disheartening to me…that when we get in these positions somehow the goalposts change.”
Foxx reportedly mentioned in her speech that she welcomes an independent investigation into her handling of the case, saying that nearly 6,000 other "low-level defendants" received the same treatment with deferred prosecution, adding that under the law, Smollett could've been fined a maximum of $10,000 — which he effectively paid when he forfeited his bond for the same amount.
Foxx publicly recused herself from Smollett's case after communicating with one of his relatives during the police investigation into whether or not he staged an alleged hate crime against himself. But her office later said she never formally recused herself. She has received widespread criticism -- not just from the police union -- for her handling of the case.
In January, Smollett told police that two masked men attacked him, put a rope around his neck and poured bleach on him as he was walking home from a Subway restaurant. The actor, who is black and openly gay, said the masked men beat him, made racist and homophobic comments and yelled, "This is MAGA country" before fleeing the scene.
However, the Chicago Police Department alleged that Smollett paid the two men, Abel and Ola Osundairo, by check for a "phony attack" in order to take "advantage of the pain and anger of racism to promote his career." The brothers were allegedly caught on surveillance footage purchasing the rope used in the staged "attack" on Smollett.
The FBI is investigating whether Smollett sent himself a threatening hate letter to the "Empire" set, which could potentially land him behind bars for a decade for mail fraud — a federal offense.
Smollett has maintained his innocence throughout the ordeal. His attorneys previously told Fox News they've "witnessed an organized law enforcement spectacle that has no place in the American legal system. The presumption of innocence, a bedrock in the search for justice, was trampled upon at the expense of Mr. Smollett and notably, on the eve of a Mayoral election. Mr. Smollett is a young man of impeccable character and integrity who fiercely and solemnly maintains his innocence betrayed by a system that apparently wants to skip due process and proceed directly to sentencing.”
Fox News’ Jessica Sager and The Associated Press contributed to this report.