After 16 felony charges against Jussie Smollett were dropped, Chicago's mayor and the city's top police officer have launched an ongoing media campaign to denounce the actor. This campaign has led to protests online and now in the streets of the Windy City.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel immediately lashed out Tuesday once the decision was made public, stating that it was a "whitewash of justice." Superintendent Eddie Johnson, the city's top cop, restated that Smollett was guilty.
And now, the police union representing the department has announced an upcoming protest on Monday at the county prosecutor's office as their calls for a federal probe into the case intensify.
"We are interested in having the federal authorities look into what occurred here because we're baffled by what has happened," Kevin Graham, president of the Fraternal Order of Police, told Fox News ("America's Newsroom") before a protest was announced on the union's Facebook page.
In the days following the decision, Chicago's most influential law enforcers -- and even the nation's leader -- have made clear their desire to hold Smollett accountable for an alleged crime that he is no longer being put on trial for.
Emanuel informed reporters Thursday morning that he will be sending the actor a bill for the "hoax" as a way to recoup money used in the investigation that ensued after the actor claimed he was attacked by two masked men earlier this year.
"The finance piece is a piece of it," Emanuel told reporters Thursday morning. "It is an acknowledgment of what you did is wrong."
His comments came just hours after President Donald Trump tweeted that he will be asking federal agencies to look into the case, and was openly angry that Smollett would no longer stand trial.
While the two men have historically not agreed, this issue seems to be becoming an increasingly bipartisan matter for the most high-profile individuals involved, which may shock many Chicagoans.
Just two months before the historic election of Trump, the union made public their official endorsements for various political races that year. The group listed candidates across all political affiliations and named the Republican politician as their choice for president.
Then-candidate Trump had been routinely coming out in support of police officers having "more authority" in the wake of many high-profile police shooting cases that many, including Mayor Emanuel, said made officers feel as if they couldn't do their jobs without facing public retaliation.
Emanuel at the time famously referred to the department as "fetal" due to mounting national pressures from the media and Black Lives Matter activists.
When noting the Trump endorsement, the organization made sure to highlight that they were aligning with the National Fraternal Order of Police, the world's largest police union, which faced backlash the month prior for also supporting Trump.
The move shocked many elected officials at a Chicago City Council meeting -- with one even calling a Trump endorsement in Chicago a "suicide charge" under Obama's ex-chief of staff, Emanuel, who believed that then-candidate Hillary Clinton was a clear winner, according to DNAInfo.
"I understand where a lot of this simmering resentment comes from police officers, I get that, but there's a better way to channel that than what looks like a kind of suicidal charge," Hopkins stated at the time, referring to a Department of Justice investigation under President Obama that called the police racist. "So this endorsement accomplishes nothing and just further fans the flames of division."
No matter their past, it seems that when it comes to Smollett, the two men and the union are aligned for potentially the first time -- even while the mayor has asked publicly for Trump to "stay out of it."
News of the stunning reversal in the Smollett case sent a shockwave through the city on Tuesday when the investigative teams who have argued that the actor faked a hate crime in January were alerted that the case was over. Charges being dropped was a decision that no one, not even the mayor or the city's top cop, was informed of prior to the announcement, which provided an extra sting to a fraught situation.
"It's Mr. Smollett who committed this hoax," said Johnson immediately after being notified of the decision and showing visible anger. "Period."
Records involving Smollett's case are now sealed by the state, a decision that his attorney couldn't elaborate on how or why. However, she stated that this was the "right" decision by the state.
The prosecutor's office shelved the decision on Smollett's case due to his community service work and forfeiting his bond to the city.
"After reviewing all of the facts and circumstances of the case, including Mr. Smollett's volunteer service in the community and agreement to forfeit his bond, we believe this outcome is a just disposition and appropriate resolution to this case," the Cook County State's Attorney's office said early Tuesday morning.
Smollett's record is now wiped clean of any filings against him, according to prosecutors, and the actor will also no longer face any charges by the Chicago police department who simmer with anger over a case they felt they would win in court.
And officials within the state's attorney office are not denying this either.
First Assistant State's Attorney Joseph Magats, who oversaw the case after State's Attorney Kim Foxx recused herself, told The New York Times that his office was not "exonerating" Smollett with this decision.
"We work to prioritize violent crime and the drivers of violent crime. Public safety is our number one priority," he said. "I don't see Jussie Smollett as a threat to public safety."
Smollett has only made one brief comment to the press since he was told that the charges against him are now dropped. He restated that he was "100 percent consistent" in his story the entire time, and was deeply thankful to those who supported him throughout the case.
"I want you to know that not for a moment was it in vain," Smollett said to supporters who have defended him as he left a Chicago courthouse. "I've been truthful and consistent on every single level since day one."
Smollett stressed that he would never fabricate a story of this magnitude as an activist because he is aware of the damage it could do to LGBTQ people, Black people, and other marginalized communities.
The actor says he hopes to move on with his life now, but with more anger erupting by the hour in Chicago, this now seems unlikely.
An FBI investigation into hate letters sent to Smollett prior to the violent incident is still ongoing, and many of his critics hope will bring new felony charges and a trial similar to the one that the actor has already successfully dodged.