Jussie Smollett’s ‘voluntary’ community service at Jesse Jackson’s civil rights foundation which led to him having all the charges against him dropped came about after the civil rights hero got in touch to offer him ‘council’.
There are abundant questions surrounding how Smollett was able to walk away from 16 felony charges with no criminal record, after paying just $10,000 and spending 16 hours performing community service at Rainbow PUSH, Jackson’s civil rights organization, after months of scrutiny over the case.
The Empire actor insists the community service voluntary and was not part of a deal with prosecutors to get the charges dropped, as does Reverend Jackson.
Prosecutors also said on Wednesday that the charges would not have been dropped if he had not completed it.
Exactly how or when it was decided that he would complete it, and how much prosecutors were aware of it ahead of time, remains unconfirmed.
Jackson revealed on Tuesday that when it became clear Smollett was ‘in crisis’, he got in touch with him and offered ‘council’. He did not say whether he made contact before or after Smollett was arrested on February 21.
‘When he first was reported to be in the crisis, we reached out to him like we often do. He responded, came over that time. I sought to council him,’ Jackson told CBS.
Smollett visited Rainbow PUSH, Jackson’s organization, on Saturday and Monday. His service there led prosecutors to suddenly drop the charges against him on Tuesday in a move that has been slammed by local police and city officials as a ‘whitewash of justice’.
Kim Foxx, the Cook County State’s Attorney who recused herself over the Jussie Smollett probe, is pictured with Jesse Jackson on February 28. Jackson has revealed he contacted Smollett when he was ‘in crisis’ and offered him his ‘council’. On Saturday and Monday, Smollett spent two days at Jackson’s civil rights organization and it was that community service which led prosecutors to suddenly drop the charges against him
Foxx gushed over the reverend’s foundation in a tweet about their meeting. She had stepped back from the Smollett probe after exchanging texts with members of his family
Smollett did two days of community service at the Rainbow PUSH Coalition in Chicago over Saturday and Monday. He is shown during one of those days at the foundation where he also worked in book stores and spoke to film and music students. The organization called him one of its most ‘impactful’ volunteers
The foundation will not reveal if it was Smollett’s first visit or if he has completed community service on any other occasion. It also did not immediately respond when asked if prosecutors knew ahead of time that Smollett would be going.
JESSE JACKSON SAYS SMOLLETT COMMUNITY SERVICE WAS VOLUNTARY AND NOT PART OF DEAL
The Rainbow PUSH Coalition is an international human rights/civil rights organization that is committed to advancing the human rights of all people. When we first heard of Jussie Smollett’s crisis, we reached out to him and “Empire” to see if we could be helpful. Jussie met with us and has given of himself to our organization and the movement for social justice.
We have members and supporters across the country and around the world. Many of our members and supporters give of themselves and their time to help achieve the goals of the organization. Jussie is a member of our organization. He, like many other members, has given of his time and talent and continues to do so. During this period of disruption to his life and livelihood, Jussie has spent time here helping to advance this important work. There was no court-ordered community service here.
Media questions about the rationale for dismissing the charges against Jussie are best directed to his counsel and the Office of the State’s Attorney. The prosecutors’ decision to dismiss the charges are the prosecutors alone, and Jussie should not be the one to defend the decision. He has maintained his innocence from the very beginning.
At a time when our city is wrestling with excessive violence and unsolved homicides our resources and energies should be focused there. Any further questions about Jussie Smollett’s case should be directed to his lawyer.
We will continue to reach out to the challenges in our community. We will not stop until there is peace and justice for all.
Reverend Jackson said that he hoped it would bring an end to the problem.
‘Hopefully this chapter is closed. I pray for him and am available for council,’ he added.
Kim Foxx, – who is facing tough scrutiny for her handling of the entire case – was seen giving Jackson an award at the C.F. Stradford Awards.
It was a week after Smollett’s arrested for allegedly staging a hoax hate crime and lying about it and Foxx had already recused herself from the case for exchanging text messages with a member of the star’s family which police unions are now calling ‘highly suspicious’ in light of her office’s about-turn on the charges.
There were several award recipients that night who Foxx congratulated on Twitter.
In her tribute to Reverend Jackson, she acknowledged his organization.
‘The Rev Jackson needs no introduction. As founder & president of the RP Coalition, he has worked tirelessly to expand educational, business & employment opportunities for disadvantaged and people of color in Chicago.
‘I’m so happy to honor him with this award tonight,’ she wrote in a tweet along with a photograph of the pair.
The reverend made separate comments in a February 19 interview as suspicion around Smollett’s story intensified.
‘The narrative of a black or gay being attacked is prevalent. So it’s easy to believe.
‘Then the story starts unraveling. So now you have the case of it is a hoax, or is it real? We should not prejudge.
‘We jumped to conclusions on the front side Don’t put due process on recess. Due process takes time and we should honor that process.
‘Whether we judge him harshly or judge him lightly, let’s let the investigation determine the outcome,’ Reverend Jackson told CBS.
Rainbow PUSH spoke out in defense of Smollett on Tuesday.
On February 19, as information emerged that Smollett was now the suspect in the case, Jackson urged people not to rush to judgement.
‘The narrative of a black or gay being attacked is prevalent. So it’s easy to believe. Then the story starts unraveling. So now you have the case of it is a hoax, or is it real?
‘We should not prejudge. We jumped to conclusions on the front side.
‘Don’t put due process on recess. Due process takes time and we should honor that process.
Smollett cheers on Michelle Obama at the White House in 2016 during a workshop on the musical legacy of Ray Charles
These are the emails exchanged between Tina Tchen and Kim Foxx on February 1, days after the incident on January 29 when Smollett was still being considered the victim of a hate crime
Tchen put one of Smollett’s relatives in touch with Foxx. Their texts are shown
‘Whether we judge him harshly or judge him lightly, let’s let the investigation determine the outcome.’
In a statement, the organization said it got in touch with Smollett after his arrest to offer him support and that his doing service with them was not in exchange for the charges being dropped.
The texts continued until mid February then Foxx recused herself
‘When we first heard of Jussie Smollett’s crisis, we reached out to him and “Empire” to see if we could be helpful. Jussie met with us and has given of himself to our organization and the movement for social justice.
‘Jussie is a member of our organization. He, like many other members, has given of his time and talent and continues to do so.
‘During this period of disruption to his life and livelihood, Jussie has spent time here helping to advance this important work. There was no court-ordered community service here,’ spokesman Don Terry said.
Terry did not immediately respond on Wednesday when asked when it was decided that he would visit this past weekend and Monday, the day before the charges were dropped, or if he has visited any other time over the last six weeks since his arrest.
The organization gushed over him and said it was ‘one of the most impactful’ volunteers they had ever had.
In its statement announcing the decision to drop the charges, the State’s Attorney’s office said: ‘After reviewing all of the facts and circumstances of the case, including Mr. Smollet’s volunteer service in the community and agreement to forfeit his bond to the City of Chicago, we believe this outcome is a just disposition and appropriate resolution to this case.’
State’s Attorney Kim Foxx is facing scrutiny for trying to intervene in the investigation by asking police to turn it over to the FBI. She exchanged text messages with members of the Smollett family keeping them updated with her progress but recused herself over them. Joe Magats (right) took over the case and decided to suddenly drop the charges on Tuesday
This is the letter that was submitted to the court by Jesse Jackson to get Smollett off
The city’s mayor, Rahm Emanuel, has decried the outcome as proof that Smollett was favored because is famous and well connected.
Foxx, meanwhile, is facing scrutiny from the Fraternal Order of Police over her handling of the case.
The union, which looks after 8,000 cops, has called her actions ‘highly suspicious’.
On February 1, when Smollett was still being treated as the victim of the crime, Foxx got a phone call from Tina Tchen, Michelle Obama’s former chief of staff, on behalf of the family.
She said that they had concerns with the number of leaks coming out of the Chicago police department and that the family would rather it be handled by the FBI.
The entire country is getting a window into the absurdity of the Chicago political and legal system
Fraternal Order of Police Vice President Martin Preib
Foxx then received a text message from one of Smollett’s relatives.
The unnamed relative and Foxx then exchanged messages about her efforts to ‘convince’ Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie T. Johnson to get the case turned over to the FBI.
In response, the relative said: ‘OMG this would be a huge victory.’
The Fraternal Order of Police in Chicago questioned their exchange in a letter to the US Attorney for Illinois.
‘Victory of what? For whom? Why?’ the union’s president, Kevin Graham, asked.
Tchen defended herself in a statement on Wednesday.
‘I know members of the Smollett family based on prior work together.
‘Shortly after Mr. Smollett reported he was attacked, as a family friend, I contacted Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, who I also know from prior work together.
‘My sole activity was to put the chief prosecutor in the case in touch with an alleged victim’s family who had concerns about how the investigation was being characterized in public,’ she said.
‘The conduct of her office from the very beginning of this cases was highly, highly suspicious,’ Martin Preib, the FOP’s vice president, said on Tuesday.
‘The entire country is outraged by it. The evidence is overwhelming that he was legitimately charged in this case. This decision appears to be utterly arbitrary, capricious and suspicious.
‘The entire country is getting a window into the absurdity of the Chicago political and legal system,’ he added.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said on Wednesday that the Jussie Smollett case had made ‘fools of us all’ as he demanded to know why the Empire star suddenly had all 16 charges dropped on Tuesday after making a secret deal with prosecutors
Emanuel said on Wednesday that none of the case added up.
‘This does not add up. They better get their story straight, this is making fools of us all,’ he said.
‘He abused the city of Chicago, he committed a crime here. He lied about something,’ he went on, adding that it was not just the state but also a grand jury who thought Smollett was guilty.
‘He said he wanted to get his name clear. Let’s get to the bottom of this, let’s find out what happened,’ he said.
Abel and Ola Osundairo, the brothers who told police Smollett asked them to attack him, have not spoken out.
Their lawyer Gloria Schmidt said on Tuesday that they had been fully prepared to testify against him at trial but now that there is no trial, there is no need for her to represent them.