Sharpton, At Harris Meeting, Says Smollett Should Face ‘Maximum’ Punishment

February 21, 2019 - 6:36 pm

NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — Presidential hopeful Sen. Kamala Harris declined to weigh in on the Jussie Smollett case Thursday in Harlem during a meeting with the Reverend Al Sharpton, who said the “Empire” star should face “accountability to the maximum” if he did in fact stage an alleged hate crime last month.

“Whoever is wrong should pay the maximum,” Sharpton said.

He added that he feels there was no overreaction to the allegations.

“The thing that I keep hearing people comparing it to other cases decades ago. There were no marches here. There were no demonstrations here. We reacted to reports, including President Trump who called it horrible,” Sharpton noted.

Harris, who originally called the alleged attack “an attempted modern day lynching,” declined to comment at the meeting.

On Thursday, Smollett turned himself in to face a charge of making a false police report after he claimed he was attacked in downtown Chicago by two men who hurled racist and anti-gay slurs and looped a rope around his neck.

Al Sharpton and Kamala Harris
Peter Haskell/WCBS 880

Harris later tweeted her response to the developments saying she was “sad, frustrated, and disappointed.”

“When anyone makes false claims to police, it not only diverts resources away from series 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," the senator wrote.

She added: “I will always condemn racism and homophobia. We must always confront hate directly, and we must always seek justice. That is what I will keep fighting for.”

Sharpton told reporters that he and Harris did not discuss the “Empire” actor during their lunch. Instead, the two touched on topics of criminal justice reform and economic inequality.

Harris was the latest presidential hopeful to dine with Sharpton at Sylvia’s, a soul food restaurant that has attracted the likes of Bill Clinton, Nelson Mandela, Bernie Sanders and more.