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Harris on Smollett: 'I'm sad, frustrated, and disappointed'
Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) said Thursday that she is "sad, frustrated, and disappointed" over the allegation that "Empire" actor Jussie Smollett staged an attack he reported as a hate crime.
"Like most of you, I've seen the reports about Jussie Smollett, and I'm sad, frustrated, and disappointed," Harris, who is running for the president in 2020, said in a statement. "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 forward."
"At the same time, we must speak the truth: hate crimes are on the rise in America," she continued. "Just last year, the FBI released statistics that revealed a 17 percent increase in the number of hate crimes in America. Part of the tragedy of this situation is that it distracts from that truth, and has been seized by some who would like to dismiss and downplay the very real problems we must address."
Smollett surrendered to authorities Thursday morning after he was charged with disorderly conduct charge for allegedly filing a false police report. Smollett reported he'd been attacked in Chicago in January.
The actor, who is black and gay, told Chicago police last month that two men beat him, tied a rope around his neck and poured an unknown chemical substance on him.
Like many other politicians on both sides of the aisle, Harris condemned the attack when it was initially reported, calling it a "modern day lynching."
On Monday, the California lawmaker had said she would withhold judgement until the investigation was completed.
"I will say this about that case," she said. "I think that the facts are still unfolding, and I'm very concerned about the initial allegation that he made about what might have happened."
"And it's something we should all take seriously whenever anyone alleges that kind of behavior, but there should be an investigation," Harris added. "And I think that once the investigation has concluded then we can all comment, but I'm not going to comment until I know the outcome of the investigation."