Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel says the sudden move to drop charges against actor Jussie Smollett over a hoax attack has made a fool of the city.
The state’s attorney’s office maintains Jussie Smollett has not been exonerated, while the actor’s lawyers say his record has been wiped clean.
Rahm Emanuel told ABC News: “They better get their stories straight because this is actually making a fool of all of us.”
Police maintain Jussie Smollett staged a racist and homophobic attack.
The actor has insisted throughout that he is innocent of all these allegations.
Speaking on Good Morning America on March 27, Mayor Emanuel pilloried Jussie Smollett, saying he “abused the city of Chicago”.
“You have the state’s attorney’s office saying he’s not exonerated, he actually did commit this hoax. He’s saying he’s innocent and his words aren’t true.”
Rahm Emanuel says he wants the court records unsealed so that all the evidence gathered by Chicago Police could be seen.
The mayor said he also wants prosecutors to explain why they made such a sudden reversal.
He said police had evidence that Jussie Smollett had made up claims that he was attacked on January 29 in downtown Chicago by two masked men who he claimed shouted racist and homophobic slurs, poured bleach on him and put a rope round his neck.
Illinois prosecutor Joe Magats made the decision to drop charges against Jussie Smollett on March 26 in a move that blindsided police – but he maintains that the TV actor is guilty.
He told CBS News: “Our priority is violent crimes and the drivers of violence.
“Jussie Smollett is neither one of those.”
He added that community service and a fine is a common outcome for such a case. When asked if those penalties were sufficient for Mr Smollett, he said: “I feel that it is.”
Tandra Simonton, a spokeswoman for the Cook County state’s attorney, told NBC News: “The charges were dropped in return for Mr. Smollett’s agreement to do community service and forfeit his $10,000 bond to the City of Chicago.
“Without the completion of these terms, the charges would not have been dropped.”
Police, however, have disagreed, with Supt Eddie Johnson saying if Jussie Smollett “wanted to clear his name, the way to do that was in a court of law so that everyone could see the evidence”.
A Chicago police union on Tuesday renewed calls for a federal inquiry looking into what role the state’s prosecutor Kimberly Foxx, who recused herself, played in the case.
In a statement to NBC, the Fraternal Order of Police said they are “outraged…but not surprised”.
The union said Kimberly Foxx had “transformed the prosecutor’s office to a political arm of the anti-police movement”.
The Fraternal Order of Police said their demand was based on reports of texts between Kimberly Foxx and a former Obama aide about the case.
State’s Attorney Kimberly Foxx recused herself from the Smollett case last month, citing a conflict of interest “based upon familiarity with potential witnesses in the case”.
According to local media, attorney Tina Tchen, former chief of staff to First Lady Michelle Obama, connected Kimberly Foxx with Jussie Smollett’s family in the days following the alleged attack.
Earlier this month, the Chicago Sun-Times reported that Tina Tchen had texted Kimberly Foxx on February 1 that Jussie Smollett’s family had “concerns about the investigation”.
Kimberly Foxx later told the Chicago Sun-Times that those worries were regarding leaked information about the case from “police sources”, and that the family felt the FBI would keep a “tighter lid on the information”.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has been forced into a tough run-off election after failing to gain 50% of voters in his re-election bid.
Rahm Emanuel had 45% of the vote while his main challenger, Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, gained 34%.
Chuy Garcia was successful in garnering support from those who have been unhappy with Rahm Emanuel’s term as mayor, including the teacher’s union.
The run-off election will be held on April 7.
Speaking to supporters on February 24, Rahm Emanuel pledged to return to campaigning immediately.
“We will get back out there, talking to our friends and families and neighbours as they make a critical choice about who has the strength, who has the leadership, who has the ideas to move this great city forward,” he said.
“Today, we the people have spoken,” Chuy Garcia told supporters, some who were already wearing campaign buttons with the run-off date and a cartoon version of Garcia’s moustache.
“This city deserves a mayor who will put people first, not big money, special interests,” Chuy Garcia said on Tuesday.
“I will be that mayor.”
Both Chuy Garcia and Rahm Emanuel were already out shaking hands on February 25 at stations on the city’s L subway.
Rahm Emanuel needed 50% to avoid a run-off, and had fundraised extensively – $16 million, more than four times his challengers, over the course of the campaign.
President Barack Obama also endorsed Rahm Emanuel, who was his first chief of staff, for re-election.
Jesus Garcia, who was born in Mexico and raised in Chicago, is a county commissioner who jumped into the mayor’s race in October after another likely candidate, Chicago Teacher’s Union President Karen Lewis, was diagnosed with brain cancer.
During the campaign, Chuy Garcia and three other challengers criticized Rahm Emanuel’s push to close dozen of schools and his large fundraising operation.
Joyce Rodgers, who is retired, said she believed the school closures cost the mayor the trust of the city’s African-American community. Many in the city’s public schools are minorities.
Others were supportive of Rahm Emanuel’s efforts to bring more jobs to the city. The mayor campaigned on his record – making a series of tough budget decisions and raising Chicago’s minimum wage.
Donald Trump is fighting with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel over a sign affixed to Trump’s downtown skyscraper.
The 20ft tall T-R-U-M-P sign was placed 200ft above the Chicago River and is backlit by bright lights.
Rahm Emanuel’s office said the mayor believed the “architecturally tasteful building” was “scarred” by the sign.
Donald Trump has said the sign is “magnificent” and “popular” and argued the city previously signed off on it.
It enhances the building, he told NBC News, and said the building itself was “a great piece of architecture, great for Chicago”.
“Cities love the [Trump] brand and we are getting tweets, letters and phone calls from people who just love it [the sign].”
Donald Trump built the Trump International Hotel and Tower six years ago to replace an ageing Chicago Sun-Times building with its own sign
The billionaire blamed Blair Kamin, Chicago Tribune‘s architecture critic, for stirring up controversy with his harsh criticism during the sign’s recent installation.
“If this sign was in Atlantic City or Las Vegas, nobody would care – but it is in Chicago, and in a part of Chicago full of great buildings from the 1920s to the 1960s and onward,” Blair Kamin, a Pulitzer Prize-winner said.
None of the other towers have signs on them, he added, calling the Trump sign an “egotistical overstatement”.
Donald Trump built the Trump International Hotel and Tower six years ago to replace an ageing Chicago Sun-Times building with its own sign. It is now the second-tallest building in the city.
The former tenants of the site agree with Blair Kamin.
“It is, rather, an obnoxious New York interloper, not unlike The Donald himself,” wrote the Sun Times newspaper, which described the sign on its current building as “sociable but not loud”.
Kelly Quinn, Rahm Emanuel’s spokeswoman, told the New York Times the mayor instructed Donald Trump’s office to look into “options available for further changes”.
But passers-by who were asked by NBC News on Friday to share their thoughts generally liked the sign.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has announced he will seek a court order to end a strike by thousands of teachers, as their walkout goes into a second week.
The strike, affecting 350,000 students, began when talks broke down over issues including pay and teacher evaluation.
The teachers’ union had reached an outline deal on ending their action but delegates unexpectedly voted to continue discussions for two more days.
Rahm Emanuel said the strike was “illegal” and “wrong for our children”.
He said he had sought a court injunction to bring the walkout to an immediate halt because it was over “non-strikable” issues and “endangers the health and safety of our children”.
The Chicago mayor – President Barack Obama’s former White House chief of staff – issued his statement after Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) delegates voted against suspending the strike.
Chicago teachers strike began when talks broke down over issues including pay and teacher evaluation
The confrontation is seen as an embarrassment to Barack Obama, in his home city and in the middle of a re-election battle.
The strike is the first of its kind in the US for 25 years and is awkward for a president with close ties to the mayor.
The teachers walked out after lengthy contract talks stalled over reforms aimed at revitalizing city services. The negotiations hit deadlock over a proposed teacher evaluation process.
The CTU fears more than one in four public school teachers could lose their jobs and benefits if an evaluation of their performance based on students’ test scores goes ahead.
In a statement posted on the CTU website, 800 union delegates considered a 23-page outline deal between the union and the mayor.
Union leader Karen Lewis said “a clear majority” had voted not to suspend the strike to allow delegates two more days to hold discussions with the union’s 26,000 members. Another meeting is scheduled for Tuesday afternoon.
She had earlier said she would ask the delegates to suspend the walkout.
“Teachers and school staff will return to the picket lines of the schools at which they teach at 07:30 on Monday,” the CTU statement said.
Rahm Emanuel faced a $700 million school budget shortfall when he took office last year and he has said the contract agreed with the union will cost $295 million over four years.
Under the proposed deal published by the union:
• the evaluation system would be phased in over several years while the weighting of students’ test results in teacher-evaluations would be reduced
• teachers’ health care benefits would stay at current levels
• teachers would receive a 3% raise this year followed by 2% in the following two years
• a further increase would be included if the agreement went into a fourth year