The former California senator said Smollett was a victim of an “attempted modern-day lynching” in January 2019 when the ex “Empire” actor dominated headlines for fabricating details of an attack near his Chicago home.
“.@JussieSmollett is one of the kindest, most gentle human beings I know. I’m praying for his quick recovery,” Harris tweeted at the time. “This was an attempted modern day lynching. No one should have to fear for their life because of their sexuality or color of their skin. We must confront this hate.”
Chicago police began investigating a hate crime after Smollett said he had been attacked by two masked men at 2 a.m. The actor charged the attackers with hurling racist and homophobic slurs, dousing him in an “unknown” chemical, looping a noose around his neck, and invoking the Trump campaign slogan, “MAGA country.”
His story quickly fell apart before police announced weeks later that he had paid two friends to help stage the incident because he was displeased with his TV show salary. Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie T. Johnson said in late February 2019 that Smollett “took advantage of the pain and anger of racism to promote his career.”
Harris eventually reversed course, saying she was “sad, frustrated, and disappointed” in light of the revelation.
“When anyone makes false claims to police, it not only diverts resources away from serious investigations but it makes it more difficult for other victims of crime to come forwards,” Harris said on February 21, 2019. “At the same time, we must speak the truth: hate crimes are on the rise in America.”
Smollett maintains his innocence despite facing six counts of disorderly conduct for allegedly filing a false police report.