By Mohammad Samra
Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson and Detective Commander Edward Wodnicki addressed the media after “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett turned himself in to police following the completion of the investigation. Johnson questioned the actions of Smollett, asking “how could someone who was embraced by the city of Chicago slap them in the face with these false allegations.”
“I’m offended by what has happened and I’m also angry,” said Johnson, “I love the city of Chicago…this publicity stunt was a scar that Chicago didn’t earn, and certainly didn’t deserve.”
Johnson then proceeded to heap praise on the detective committee as well as the FBI for their continued efforts in solving the case. He introduced Detective Commander Wodnicki, who gave a timeline of the events that transpired before reaching the conclusion that the attack was staged. Wodnicki went into detail on how quickly the two persons of interest were found on video and how the reliance of video surveillance led to the Chicago Police Department waiting for the return of the persons of interest from Nigeria at O’Hare International. Once both persons of interest were detained, both asked for an attorney, which marked the turning point in the investigation, according to Wodnicki.
“She (The attorney) came to us and after speaking with these two people of interest she said that something smelled fishy…After approximately 47 hours of them being in custody, and hours of meeting with us and telling us their story…did we release them without charging and I classified them no longer as suspects or persons of interest and as witnesses.”
After the witnesses were locked into a Grand Jury statement, charges were approved against Smollett for a Class IV Disorderly Conduct for falsifying a police report, according to Wodnicki.
Smollett’s case gained national attention and created a larger political rift within the country. By staging the attack, Smollett created skepticism in future hate crimes reported, and if another hate crime gains national attention, a seed of doubt will be planted because of Smollett’s actions.
“It’s incredibly sickening and ridiculous because future hate crimes can be identified as a hoax or an exaggerated situation at a time where they are significantly increasing,” said Fernando Lopez, 19-year-old college student, “With states doing very little to cover the failure of the federal government to protect victims of these violent acts, there’s no denying that this will obviously be used in future reference to any attack fueled by racism or prejudice moving forward.”
Smollett, a prominent member of the LGBTQ community, caused extensive damage to the community with his orchestrated publicity stunt and false police reports.
“What he did was for fortune and fame, he’s an openly gay actor and I bet a lot of homosexual people looked up to him for inspiration,” said 19-year-old Chicagoan Josh Tate, “This world is sensitive to anything and this makes it harder for homosexuals to reveal their desire as they are already looked down upon as it is.”
Superintendent Johnson finished fielding questions from the media before himself and other police officials left the press room. Johnson emphasized that the truth needed as much coverage as the false claims, and that the city of Chicago needs to heal from the damage their reputation was caused because of the stunt.
“We have problems that have affected people from all walks of life, and we know that,” said Johnson, “but to put the national spotlight on Chicago for something that is both egregious and untrue is simply shameful…I only hope that the truth about what happened receives the same amount of attention that the hoax did,”