Chicago’s police chief says he wishes victims of gun violence got the same attention as the Jussie Smollett case

  • The Chicago Police Department’s superintendent, Eddie Johnson, noted on Thursday that more attention was being given to the arrest of the “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett than victims of gun violence in the city.
  • “I look out into the crowd, I just wish that the families of gun violence in this city got this much attention,” he told the sea of journalists attending a press conference on the case.
  • Since 2016, Chicago has struggled to control astonishing levels of violent crime, including thousands of shootings and hundreds of homicides a year.

The Chicago Police Department’s superintendent, Eddie Johnson, broke away from talking about the arrest of the “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett on Thursday morning to chide media outlets for their disproportionate coverage of the saga.

Johnson held the press conference to discuss the arrest of Smollett, 36, on suspicion of staging a hate crime against himself, which the police say he invented because he was “dissatisfied with his salary.”

Johnson, looking out over the sea of journalists who attended the press conference, noted that media outlets had not devoted the same resources to victims of the gun violence that has plagued the city in recent years.

“Guys, I look out into the crowd, I just wish that the families of gun violence in this city got this much attention,” he said. “Because that’s who really deserves the amount of attention that we’re giving to this particular incident.”

Read more: Chicago police lay into Jussie Smollett after his arrest, saying he made up a homophobic attack as a ‘publicity stunt’ because he wanted a bigger salary

Smollett, 36, in a booking photo provided by the Chicago Police Department on Thursday.

caption
Smollett, 36, in a booking photo provided by the Chicago Police Department on Thursday.
source
Courtesy Chicago Police Department/Handout via REUTERS

Since 2016, Chicago has struggled with astonishing levels of violent crime, including thousands of shootings and hundreds of homicides a year. According to the Chicago Police Department data gathered by the Chicago Sun-Times, about 550 people were murdered in the city in 2018, down from 664 in 2017 and 781 the year before.

The city also logged 2,355 shootings in 2018 and 2,750 in 2017, according to the Sun-Times.

Johnson wasn’t the only one to note the disproportionate attention given to the Smollett case on Thursday.

The Sun-Times reporter Sam Charles noted that he’d never seen so many cameras at a police press conference – including the one held after video was released showing the police killing of the black teenager Laquan McDonald, an incident for which an officer was later convicted of murder.