Rev. Ira Acree says he’s been searching for answers with grieving relatives of Demetrius Griffin, since 2016 when he was murdered.
"Do you have to be a celebrity for your life to matter?" Acree asked. "Do you have to have money for your life to matter?"
The pastor’s 15-year-old niece Yasmin Acree has been missing since 2008. Unlike the Jussie Smollett investigation, no charges have been filed in either case.
"It’s more disgraceful how we’ve made this particular case a priority in a city that has so many homicides," Acree said.
The Empire TV star is charged with disorderly conduct in filing a false police report. He’s accused of orchestrating an attack on himself and claiming the assault was a racist and homophobic hate crime.
At 365 N. Clark St., it's common to see Empire film crews, many big scenes are shot at the location and many of Smollett’s fans live and work nearby.
"I can’t believe it," said Allie Streppa, a fan of the show. "From the moment I read about the attack, I didn’t question it for a second."
"It’s just really sad that everybody had his back and he betrayed all these people that were standing behind him," Kyra Butler, another fan of the show, said.
"My first impression was, this really sucks for actual victims of hate crimes, if they ever want to come forward in the future," said Paula Bassmaji, a fan of Smollett's.
Chicago police Supt. Eddie Johnson expressed the same concern at a news conference Thursday morning.
"Bogus police reports cause real harm," he said. "They do harm to ever legitimate victim who's in need of support by police and investigators."
For Acree, there’s concern for families and victims still waiting for justice.
"Today’s action was like a slap in our faces," he said. "It’s was like pouring salt in open wounds."