PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Chicago Police Department Superintendent Eddie Johnson did not hide his anger after his department said actor Jussie Smollett faked his own racial and homophobic attack.
“To put the national spotlight on Chicago for something that is both egregious and untrue, is simply shameful,” Johnson said.
“How can an individual who’s been embraced by the city of Chicago turn around and slap everyone in this city in the face by making these false claims? Bogus police reports cause legitimate harm,” he said.
And those harmful reverberations could be felt far from the Windy City.
“There were 7,000 bias crimes in 2017,” La Salle sociology professor Charles Gallagher said.
Gallagher believes it could deter actual victims from coming forward since Smollett’s alleged false report means a cloud of suspicion could hang over anyone with a legitimate claim.
“What this person does is basically that goodwill, that trust people feel, that goodwill is going to get second-guessed,” Gallagher said.
The City of Philadelphia says they’re aware reporting of hate crimes may now face additional public scrutiny, pointing out hate crimes have been on the rise since 2016.
Amber Hikes, the city’s executive director for The Office of LGBT Affairs, said, “We cannot let victims feel like they are alone or they may face skepticism when reporting a crime.”
A spokesperson for the Philadelphia Police Department also tells Eyewitness News detectives will continue to vigorously investigate any and all allegations of hate or bias crimes with the same effort they always have.
“We have to look at this as a one-off,” Gallagher said.
Gallagher says he hopes the public’s perception of those who may have been a victim of a hate crime isn’t forever tarnished by Smollett’s decision.
“We live in a country now where hate crimes happen and this person, this one act, can’t erase that,” Gallagher said.
Gallagher also points out this could embolden those who want to commit a hate crime since the public might be skeptical of future claims.