Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx said Jussie Smollett didn't receive any special treatment when her office decided to drop all charges against him last month.
While speaking at the Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr.'s Rainbow PUSH Coalition Saturday, Foxx questioned if the attacks on her credibility and office's transparency have anything to do with her race.
"I have been asking myself for the last two weeks, 'What is this really about?' " she said during an emotionally charged speech. "As someone who has lived in this city (Chicago), who came up in the projects of this city to serve as the first African American woman in this role, it is disheartening to me … that when we get in these positions, somehow the goalposts change."
She continued: "This is personal."
Prosecutors dropped all charges on March 26 against the "Empire" star, just weeks after Smollett was indicted on 16 counts of disorderly conduct for filing a false police report about being the victim of an alleged hate-crime attack.
The decision immediately drew criticism from Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson and Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who referred to it as a "whitewash of justice."
Foxx said her office handled 2,900 other cases "from the time Jussie Smollett got charged until the time his case was dismissed" that were all conducted with the same amount of "dignity and honesty and integrity."
Jussie Smollett fallout: Police union, activists hold dueling protests over Kim Foxx conduct
She said she's long been an advocate of criminal justice reform, adding that her office uses diversion or deferred prosecution on "low-level defendants" with "great frequency."
"The efforts that I’ve had on criminal-justice reform, that were once celebrated by many in this county, are now being attacked because of one case and one celebrity," she said, while standing in front of Jackson. "I cannot run an office that is driven by anger and public sentiment."
Foxx again called for an outside investigation into how the case was handled to answer any of the public's questions.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Chicago prosecutor Kim Foxx suggests race is involved in Jussie Smollett dismissal backlash