On March 28, Jussie Smollett received a letter from former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel demanding he pay a fine after allegedly staging a racist attack against himself and Thursday was the deadline for Smollett to pay up or potentially face litigation.
Emanuel, who was outraged that the district attorney’s office dropped charges against Smollett, sent a letter to the actor demanding $130,000 for the resources used in the investigation into the allegations. Smollett made national headlines in February after claiming he was the victim of a racist attack in downtown Chicago.
Investigators would later claim that Smollett staged the attack against himself, paying two Nigerian brothers to attack him. The “Empire” actor was later charged with 16 felony counts until the district attorney decided to drop the charges.
According to NBC Chicago, nonpayment will likely trigger the city to sue Smollett, prompting a civil trial where standards for proving he staged the incident will be lower than in criminal court. This could increase the already heightened tensions that have risen in the city following the dropped charges. Law enforcement officials protested outside the DA’s office, but they were met by counterprotesters, who were showing their support for Smollett.
Cook County prosecutor Kim Foxx faced harsh criticisms after the DA’s office made their decision, despite the fact that she had recused herself from the case. She showed her support for her office through an op-ed in the Chicago Tribune where she stated that she was open to having outside investigators look into the case. The FBI and Department of Justice have decided to look into the case, but it is not yet clear if Smollett will face any federal charges.
Smollett himself has kept a low profile since he made a statement about the charges being dropped. Though he was nominated for an NAACP Image Award for his role in “Empire,” Smollett opted not to attend. Chris Rock caught heat making a controversial joke about the actor at the NAACP Image Awards, but other celebrities took the used the show their support for him.