CHICAGO — Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson on Thursday said police treated the Jussie Smollett case just like any other.
But for many Chicagoans, especially those who live in neighborhoods rattled by gun violence, the superintendent’s words ring hollow.
“Why so many resources for this case?” the Rev. Ira Acree asked Thursday. “No one was put in harm’s way. No one was shot. No one was killed.”
It took 23 days for Chicago police to fully investigate the Jussie Smollett case. The actor has been charged with disorderly conduct for filing a false report after he claimed two men attacked him downtown on Jan. 29 while shouting racist and homophobic slurs.
Prosecutors now allege Smollett staged the attack. Police said the actor was unhappy with his salary and wanted to promote his career.
Families who have waited decades for closure said they want to know why Chicago police worked so quickly on this case while others remain unsolved.
“You shouldn’t have to be wealthy or famous or popular to get the attention of the Chicago Police Department’s detective unit,” Acree said.
The West Side pastor said he still doesn’t know what happened to his cousin, Yasmin Acree, who disappeared in 2008. She was initially considered a missing person, but evidence later suggested she might have been kidnapped.
Now, 11 years later, there still aren’t answers.
The Rev. Acree recalled another case. A 15-year-old boy, Demetrius Griffin, was burned to death and stuffed in a trash can in 2016. Police still haven’t determined who killed him.
Police on Thursday said the Smollett investigation did not drain resources.
“We didn’t pull resources from any shootings or homicide investigations,” Johnson said.
According to the superintendent, detectives work in teams. Because Smollett’s case was initially classified as a hate crime, it was investigated like one.
“We just don’t have any room for hatred in this city,” Johnson said, “and for somebody to use [that] for personal gain is shameful.”
Johnson didn’t say how many detectives worked on the case. But the Rev. Michael Pfleger in a Facebook post said he heard it was more than 20.
“Yet, on the South and West Sides,” he wrote, “we have HUNDREDS of Unsolved cases of Children Shot and Killed, and parents can't even get a call back from a Detective......Somebody needs to explain WHY??????”
The clearance rate for Chicago homicides sat around 17 percent last year. The rate drops to 7 percent for non-fatal shootings.