In a stunning turn of events, prosecutors in Chicago dropped all charges against "Empire" actor Jussie Smollett on Tuesday. The result was a mix of anger, confusion and more, not only from the Chicago Police superintendent and the city's mayor, but from citizens, people from all walks of life and those commenting on social media.
This twist comes just a month after Smollett was hit with numerous felony counts stemming from what police at the time said was a staged street attack on himself.
Smollett speaks out: 'I've been truthful and consistent.'
Smollett and his legal team spoke up after the charges were dropped, continuing to proclaim that the story Smollett told police and media after the alleged attack has and always was 100 percent accurate.
"I've been truthful and consistent on every single level since day one. I would not be my mother's son if I was capable of one drop of what I was accused of," Smollett said Tuesday.
While it was not immediately clear what prompted prosecutors to drop the charges against Smollett, a spokesperson for the Cook County State Attorney's Office noted that the actor will forfeit a $100,000 bond.
A divided Chicago
Later in the afternoon, Chicago police superintendent Eddie Johnson and Mayor Rahm Emanuel spoke at a press conference and were furious about the prosecutor’s office decision to drop the case against Jussie Smollett. They defend the investigation and stand by it.
"This is without a doubt a whitewash of justice," Emanuel said at a news conference Tuesday afternoon. "There is no accountability. It is wrong, full stop."
A furious Johnson said prosecutors brokered a deal with Smollett in secrecy.
"I'm sure we all know what happened this morning," Johnson said at his press conference. "Do I think justice was served? No. What do I think justice is? I think this city is owed an apology."
As expected, many on social media are reacting in shock and confusion as to what has happened in this often-changing narrative, and how still unresolved this all feels.
"Jussie Smollett is dividing the people of Chicago," someone wrote on Twitter, while another added this was "an underwhelming end" to one of the craziest situation she's seen in years.
"So it's okay to fake a hate crime now?" another voiced.
A very thoughtful response came in the way of, "This whole #JussieSmollett thing hasn't made sense to me from the beginning. Still doesn't. Probably never will. For me, this is a reminder of why I generally don't make assertions about things I know nothing about."
Many are agreeing with statements like this.
Yet another added, "Every narrative angle of the Jussie Smollett debacle stinks. Choose your own agenda. I'll pass on this one."
Others are siding with the police, believing the charges shouldn't have been dropped and his status as a celebrity played a role.
"He reported a false hate crime!" a concerned citizen wrote, while another penned, "All should be terribly upset for this sweet heart deal. This encourages other fake crimes."
"He should pay for his crime...Period!!" a commenter wrote after the news broke, while another wrote, "Jussie smollett must have friend in high places."
But some are also standing behind the actor and the presumption of innocence, especially now with the charges dropped.
"HOW COULD THE POLICE DEPT ACCUSE HIM SO CONVINCINGLY OF THESE TERRIBLE CRIMES??? THEY SHOULD PAY FOR JUSSIE'S PAIN AND SUFFERING!!!!" one adamant person wrote.
Another wrote, "My heart goes out to Jussie SMOLLETT and his family %1000."
And finally, activists and others on social media say they aren't surprised with this outcome given the history of racial violence and alleged corruption in Chicago.
An activist Charlotte Clymer wrote, "I don't know exactly what happened with Jussie Smollett, but what I do know is that for all the bellyaching we're hearing from the Chicago Police Department, their history of brutality and wrongdoing against citizens of color eroded the public's trust long before this."
She continued, "So, regardless of what Jussie Smollett did or didn't do, Chicago Police have no one to blame but themselves for the lack of faith in their process. When you inflict harm on citizens of color for decades, you can't really complain when few take your viewpoint on face value."
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