CHICAGO — A group of suburban police chiefs as well as the police union on Thursday called on Kim Foxx, the prosecutor whose office abruptly dropped charges against “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett, to immediately resign.
The heads of three suburban Chicago police chiefs’ associations, which represent dozens of chiefs throughout the area, said they took “no confidence” votes against Foxx this week.
All three organizations voted for Foxx, who as Cook County State’s Attorney oversees prosecutions in the city of Chicago and inner ring suburbs, to resign.
About 30 suburban police chiefs announced the associations’ call for Foxx to step down at an news conference organized by the union.
Kevin Graham, the Chicago’s Fraternal Order of Police’s president, said that the Smollett case was the last straw in a long list of grievances that members of the city’s 13,000 officer police force have had with how Foxx has carried out her duties since being elected in 2016.
He cited officers’ frustration that Foxx was too frequently allowing suspects who allegedly assaulted police officers to be let go without being charged.
“This didn’t start with Jussie Smollett,” Graham said. “This started when we wanted to try and make sure that when officers received a battery in the performance of their duties that the felony charges would be placed. And we continually had problems getting those charges approved.”
In a statement, Foxx dismissed the police chiefs call for her step down.
“I was elected by the people of Cook County to pursue community safety, prevent harm, and uphold the values of fairness and equal justice,” Foxx said. “I’m proud of my record in doing that, and I plan to do so through the end of my term and, if the people so will it, into the future.”
The prosecutor has faced scrutiny since her office announced March 26 that they were dropping charges against Smollett, less than three weeks after he had been indicted for disorderly conduct for filing a police. Smollett agreed to forfeit $10,000 to the city that he put up in bond money to secure his release after his arrest.
Smollett, who is black and gay, allegedly hired two brothers to stage an assault on him and make it look like a hate crime, police and prosecutors say. The actor told investigators that his attackers yelled homophobic and racist slurs at him as well as screamed “This is MAGA country,” a reference to President Trump’s 2016 campaign slogan.
Police spent about $130,000 in officer overtime as they investigated the Jan. 29 alleged assault before they said they learned that the actor had paid the brothers — men he knew from the “Empire” set — to stage the attack.
The city of Chicago’s law department on Thursday said it was drafting a civil lawsuit against the actor to recoup the money. City officials announced the lawsuit a week after sending Smollett’s team a demand letter to reimburse Chicago for the overtime fees.
“Mr. Smollett has refused to reimburse the City of Chicago for the cost of police overtime spent investigating his false police report on January 29, 2019,” Bill McCaffrey, a spokesman for Chicago’s law department, said in a statement.
He added that the city the would pursue the “full measure of damages allowed under the ordinance,” which is triple the the amount they are trying to claw back.
Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson, who heads Chicago’s 13,000-officer department, was critical of Foxx and her office for dropping a 16-count indictment against Smollett for filing a false police report. He said that Foxx and her aides did not forewarn him or his aides that they were dropping the charges.
Johnson, however, was not among the police chiefs to call for the state’s attorney’s resignation.
“The Chicago Police Department and Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office work in partnership to keep neighborhoods throughout our city safe,” Johnson said in a statement. “Our relationship is symbiotic, and we share the goal of reducing crime. Every day, CPD presents dozens of cases for felony prosecution. Our relationship with the (state’s attorney) is paramount in keeping dangerous offenders off of the streets and safeguarding the people of Chicago.”
The heads of the area’s three suburban chiefs associations said they sent letters to Foxx Thursday informing her of the no confidence vote.
“This action invoked by our membership has been only taken after serious deliberation and after numerous attempts throughout State’s Attorney Foxx’s tenure to maintain communication between her office and our membership over prosecutorial decisions and policy choices that have been made with seemingly no regard for the burden it’s placed on our agencies and our communities,” said Duane Mellema, who heads the Chicago’s North Suburban Association of Chiefs of Police representing more than 30 departments
Graham, who called on the Justice Department to investigate the Foxx and her deputies handling of the Smollett case, said by spoke with her after the charges were dropped.
“She was very unhappy with me calling for a federal investigation,” Graham said. “I’m going to leave it at that.
Earlier this week, the police union held a protest outside Foxx’s downtown office in which hundreds of demonstrators called on her to resign.
A smaller group of activist held a counter-protest in which they argued the police union were expressing disproportionate outrage about Foxx, because she is black.
Rev. Michel Pfleger, a Catholic priest and activist who has defended Foxx, noted that all of the police chiefs who attended Thursday’s news conference are white.
“So Pathetic that FOP Kevin Graham and a room full of ALL WHITE police chiefs stand asking for Kim Foxx to resign,” Pfleger posted on Twitter. “The MAGA culture that lives in Law Enforcement is one of the reasons Black and Brown communities don’t trust police…..Bull Connor lives…”
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