Despite the Chicago Police Superintendent, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and even comedian Chris Rock condemning Jussie Smollett for staging a hate-crime against himself, the Empire actor has at least one defender:
"It's the correct thing that the charges were dropped," said the 80-year-old Democratic Congresswoman from California in a Sunday interview with Extra at the NAACP Image Awards.
"First of all, we probably will never know all of the details. We’ve heard a lot of information," said Waters.
"No one was hurt — that is, physically, killed, shot — he never committed a crime before, he forfeited the bail and it’s this kind of situation where they close the case all over the country every day. I have learned this isn't unusual."
Smollett, 36, was charged with 16 felony counts for allegedly filing a false police report after he claimed he was the victim of a racist and homophobic attack in which two men beat him, placed a rope around his neck and poured a chemical substance on him while yelling racist and homophobic slurs. Smollett later told police that the men shouted "This is MAGA country!" - a phrase the actor's manager claims he heard as he spoke with Smollett on the phone during the 'attack.'
The two men who conspired with Smollett are two Nigerian-born brothers and friends of the actor, who say Smollett paid them $3,500 to stage the attack. They were caught on video surveillance footage buying ski masks and black hats, while they later admitted to filling a hot-sauce bottle with the bleach that was thrown on Smollett. Of note, they also placed a noose around Smollett's neck which he was still wearing when police arrived to his apartment later that evening.
At the 11th hour - as the two brothers and the Chicago PD were prepared to testify against Smollett - the charges against him were unexpectedly dropped, infuriating police and mayor Rahm Emanuel, who called it a "whitewash of justice."
While Smollett has maintained his innocence, Cook County prosecutors said that he was not exonerated - but that 16 hours of 'community service' he had previously done was a sufficient punishment. Smollett's service to the community consisted of visiting Rev. Jesse Jackson's civil rights group, and speaking with high school kids thinking about going to college.