Protests erupted Monday in Chicago over the Jussie Smollett case, with rival groups squaring off outside the offices of Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx.
One group, including members of the Fraternal Order of Police, called for Foxx’s ouster, according to ABC7 Chicago. The other side, including Rev. Jesse Jackson and local activists, said they stand behind the embattled prosecutor.
Hundreds of people took part in the dueling protests, with Foxx critics repeatedly chanting “Foxx must go!”
But Jackson called criticism of the state’s attorney “unreasonable, unjustified and politically motivated.”
Father Michael Pfleger of St. Sabina Church said the African-American Foxx is being targeted because of her race.
“The attack on Kim Foxx is not about Jussie. Rather, it’s an excuse to try to remove a strong black woman who comes in the office of state’s attorney to reform it,” Pfleger said.
Foxx has faced criticism over the case since March 26, when her office dismissed 16 felony disorderly conduct charges against Smollett for allegedly lying to CPD about being assaulted.
The actor and singer told officers he was the victim of a racist and homophobic attack in the early morning hours of Jan. 29.
But Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson has repeatedly alleged Smollett staged the entire thing to get a salary increase on Empire.
Last week following the announcement that the charges had been dropped and the case sealed, Smollett told reporters “I’ve been truthful and consistent on every single level since day one.”
Johnson and Mayor Rahm Emanuel disagreed and held a news conference of their own, blasting the actor and prosecutors.
“This is a whitewash of justice,” an indignant Emanuel said.
Smollett forfeited his $10,000 bond in the case, but Emanuel insisted that amount “doesn’t even come close to what the city spent in resources” on the case.
On March 28, city officials sent a letter to Smollett demanding “immediate payment” of the $130,106.15 they claim he owes to cover the cost of the investigation.
Empire producers have stood by Smollett during the controversy, saying in a statement last week: “We are gratified that all charges against him have been dismissed.”
You can watch video of Monday’s protests below.
Must Read Stories
Subscribe to Deadline Breaking News Alerts and keep your inbox happy.