Rush Sends Letter to FBI Director Calling for Hate Crimes Investigation of Attack on Jussie Smollett

Jan 30, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON — Today, U.S. Representative Bobby L. Rush (D-Ill.) sent a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray calling for an immediate and sweeping civil rights investigation into the racist and homophobic attack on Jussie Smollett.

“This is a hate crime plain and simple and I will not stand by while evil acts are inflicted on any citizen, especially not in my hometown.  Jussie Smollett has brought pride to Chicago and made our great city his second home with his trailblazing portrayal of Jamal Lyon on the Fox series ‘Empire’.  I am even more disturbed by the manner in which this crime was carried out, particularly at the media reports of the attempted lynching, which harkens back to some of the darkest days in our history.  I thank the Chicago Police Department and FBI for their swift action and thorough investigation.  I also call on my colleagues to support my antilynching legislation that will ensure perpetrators receive an enhanced sentence under hate crimes statutes,” said Rush.

A copy of the letter is available here and included below:

January 30, 2019

The Honorable Christopher Wray


Federal Bureau of Investigation

935 Pennsylvania Ave NW

Washington, DC  20535-0001

Dear Director Wray:

I am writing you today with a deep sense of disappointment.  As you are aware, yesterday, in my hometown of Chicago, Illinois, a young African-American man, Jussie Smollett, was — as reported by multiple media sources — attacked with racist and homophobic slurs before he was brutally beaten, doused in an unknown chemical, and had a rope wrapped around his neck.

I am certain that you would agree that this kind of evil behavior has no place in our society.  Therefore, I was heartened to hear that the Federal Bureau of Investigation is assisting with the investigation into this vicious attack and I applaud you and your agents for your diligence and hard work as you assist in bringing the perpetrators of this heinous crime to justice.

As you are aware, crimes of this nature strike fear at the very core of a community and have a long-lasting impact on its members.  They are, therefore, rightfully characterized as hate crimes.  That the perpetrators in this attack are reported to have wrapped a rope around the victim’s neck is jarring, to say the least, and a surprise to many people who believe that lynching has been relegated to the annals of our history.

As we have seen too often in recent years, this is not the case.  That is why I have introduced legislation — H.R. 35, the Emmett Till Antilynching Act — that rightfully classifies lynchings as hate crimes.

Therefore, let me once again thank you and the FBI for your expediency in seeking answers to this crime.  My staff and I stand ready to assist in any way we can so, should you require it, please do not hesitate to contact me.


       Bobby L. Rush

                Member of Congress