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Police union, activists face-off over Kim Foxx, Jussie Smollett

Protesters demanding Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx resign were met Monday with shouts of “Racists must go!” from a group that wants more police accountability.

The Chicago Fraternal Order of Police rallied outside Foxx’s downtown office, clashing with a counter-protest in support of Foxx that began across the street in Daley Plaza.

The union representing the city’s rank-and-file officers is upset that the state’s attorney’s office dropped charges last week against “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett, who was accused of staging a hate-crime attack against himself.

The confrontation escalated between the two groups when community activist Ja’mal Green approached 38th Ward Ald. Nick Sposato, who sat in a wheelchair holding up a “We support the police” placard. He and Green began arguing. At one point, Green yelled: “This is what you represent? Go do some work!”

Sposato countered: “You started it.”

From then on, it was a chorus of “Foxx must go!” versus “Racists must go!”

Foxx has endured fierce criticism, both locally and nationally, for her office’s decision to dismiss the 16 felony disorderly conduct charges against Smollett. She had earlier recused herself from the case, allowing her chief deputy, Joe Magats, to make the decision to drop the charges. Foxx has said that result is not uncommon in a low-level felony case in which the accused has no criminal history.

At Monday’s protest, Patrick Learnahan, a retired Chicago police officer, was one of many out supporting the police. He held a sign that read “Make Crook County Great Again — Put Kim Foxx in jail.” He’s hoping Foxx’s office reinstates the charges against Smollett and that the state’s attorney is suspended.

“If police don’t do their jobs they fire them, but [Foxx] didn’t do her job and nothing happens to her,” Learnahan said. ”

Peter Garza, a retired CPD detective, said: “Somebody needs to tell Kim Foxx she’s the prosecutor, not the public defender. You can’t have a prosecutor who has this mindset of a public defender.”

Earlier Monday, angry Foxx supporters gathered for their own rally inside the Chicago Temple, just steps from the FOP demonstration.

“This is not just an attack on Kim Foxx. This is an attack on all black elected officials throughout the state,” said Green, a former mayoral candidate. “We know what this is really about, and we don’t stand for it.”

Nubia Ptah is “Team Foxx” all the way, according to a sign she held at the Monday rally.

“This is an atrocity and it’s insidious that they would say she has to go — Kim Foxx is going nowhere but to work tomorrow,” Ptah said. “This is pretend outrage and manufactured anger.”

The Rev. Michael Pfleger, the pastor of St. Sabina Church, also rose to Foxx’s defense.

“Disagree with her, but take your damn hands off her! Change is going to come whether you want it or not,” Pfleger said.

“The attack on Kim Foxx isn’t about Jussie,” Pfleger said. “It’s an excuse to remove a strong black woman.”

TIMELINE: The Jussie Smollett investigation