Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) said Saturday that it was the “correct thing” for Chicago prosecutors to drop all charges against Empire actor Jussie Smollett, arguing that all the facts surrounding the alleged hate hoax will likely never come to light.
In a move that baffled, the Chicago Police Department and Mayor Rahm Emanuel, the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office dropped 16 charges against Smollett last Tuesday for filing a false police report about a racist and anti-gay attack on himself. Police charge Smollett, who is African-American and gay, paid two brothers — Abel and Ola Osundairo — to stage the January 29th assault in downtown Chicago to boost his career. Smollett told police his assailants donned masks as they spewed insults, placed a thin rope around his neck and doused him with an unknown chemical substance. He also said the attackers shouted “This is MAGA country,” a reference to President Trump’s “Make America Great Again” campaign slogan, before fleeing.
“It’s the correct thing that the charges were dropped,” Waters said backstage at the 50th Annual NAACP Awards, according to Extra. “First of all, we probably will never know all of the details. We’ve heard a lot of information. No one was hurt — that is, physically, killed, shot — he never committed a crime before, he forfeited the bail and it’s this kind of situation where they close the case all over the country every day. I have learned this isn’t unsual.”
Waters said the Smollett debacle garnered “a lot of attention because of who he is — he’s an extremely talented man who people have come to love because he is on TV. I’m hopeful that he will go on with his career and be successful.”
“I would love to see him, and I am looking forward to seeing him very soon,” she added.
Waters, who has been one of Congress’ most vocal supporters of Smollett, attended the Empire star’s first concert after the allegedly staged attack. Addressing the Troubadour nightclub in West Hollywood on February 3rd, Smollett told a crowd which included Waters, movie producer Lee Daniels, and actor Wilson Cruz: “I had to be here tonight, y’all. I can’t let the motherfuckers win.”
Days prior, Waters told The Grio that President Trump’s “dog-whistling” was responsible for the attack on Smollett. “I know Jussie. I love him. His family’s a friend of mine. I know his sisters, I’ve met his mom, and I called already to Jazz, one of the sisters, to talk to her about what’s happening, what’s going on,” the California Democrat said. “So she said he’s okay, he’s out of the hospital. We didn’t talk about it much more than that, but I was on my way to Chicago to see about him. You know what I’m saying? I love him; he’s a fantastic human being; he’s so giving.”
Meanwhile, Chicago officials on Thursday ordered Smollett to repay the roughly $130,000 it cost to investigate his attack within a week or face prosecution for making false statements. The Chicago Fraternal Order of Police and the Rainbow/PUSH coalition will hold dueling protests on Monday for the handling of Smollett’s case.