Veteran state Rep. Dan Caulkins is hoping former “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett isn’t the only one forced to take a long look in the mirror following his recent conviction for filing fake hate crime charges.
“This ought to serve as a lesson to them,” Caulkins told the Chambana Sun, speaking of public figures that included Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, Vice President Kamala Harris and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who Caulkins believes only made the situation worse by speaking out about the case before all the facts were publicly known.
“They used this situation the same way Smollett did,” he added. “They wanted to believe that story so badly that they failed to look at things objectively. All these people that jumped up and down because it fit their agenda, hopefully they learn from this. They’re not blameless here.”
A Chicago jury recently found the former “Empire” star guilty of five counts of felony disorderly conduct for lying to police about a fake hate crime attack reported to have taken place nearly a year ago, USA Today reported. In rendering its verdict, the jury deliberated for just a few hours before finding Smollett guilty of five of the six class 4 felony charges he faced in a case that attracted widespread attention and commentary based on its racial overtones.
Smollett, who is Black and gay, told police his attackers placed a noose around his neck and yelled racist and homophobic slurs at him.
Throughout the trial brothers Abimbola and Olabinjo Osundairo testified that Smollett recruited them to stage the attack near his downtown Chicago home to generate more public attention for himself.
“I think people that fake hate crimes should be punished,” Caulkins added, though he stopped short of calling for the now former “Empire” star to be sentenced to jail time.
“He was trying to seek attention for himself, that’s what happens when we make idols out of people and give them preferential treatment when they have fame,” he added. “Do they need to go to prison? I would say we have so many problems with our criminal justice system that need to be addressed more urgently.”
All the added chaos comes at a time when 2021 is shaping up to be one of the worst years for deadly violence in the city’s history.
By early December, over 1,000 homicides had already been committed in Cook County and by the end of November, 927 of the 1,009 homicides documented by the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office were gun-related crimes.
A 12-year-old girl was recently shot in the back near North Michigan Avenue as large groups of teens gathered in the area, NBC5 Chicago reported.The shooting was one of several violent acts that occurred in the area. In another incident, a CTA bus driver was driving in the 100 block of North Michigan Avenue at approximately 8:40 p.m. When he got out to investigate a loud noise, he was assaulted by two minors, who punched him in the head and body.
All in all, at least 21 minors were arrested that evening, which also ended with two Chicago police officers injured and two replica firearms recovered.
Caulkins isn’t shy about placing much of the blame at the feet of leaders like Lightfoot.
“I see very little effective leadership by the majority party in the General Assembly when it comes to addressing the violence, the crime, the murders especially in Cook County,” he said. “I think the lack of leadership of taking a real look at crime and punishment and the judicial system falls right at the feet of the majority party in Illinois. If they were serious about this, they would be addressing the fallout from the criminal reform bill that had emboldened criminals.”