What’s going on with the Jussie Smollett case? Was the attack a hate crime or a stunt? The media and social media are churning out updates and hot takes. But the verdict simply is not out yet, so let’s break down what we know so far. Let’s also remember that this case does not and should not discredit the very real issues of racism, homophobia and assault.
What are the Chicago Police Saying?
Empire actor Jussie Smollett is suspected of staging a racist, homophobic attack against himself and has been charged with allegedly filing a false police report. He claimed to have been attacked by two men yelling racist and homophobic slurs in an alleged hate crime after which he was hospitalised. The Chicago police now believe the attack to be self-orchestrated. But Jussie has denied the accusations.
According to Refinery29, Chicago police superintendent Eddie Johnson told the press that the actor’s motive for the alleged crime is that he was “dissatisfied with his salary” and called the attack a “stunt”. Smollett reportedly paid the two initial suspects $3500 each to stage the attack.
What are Jussie’s Lawyers Saying?
“Like any other citizen, Mr. Smollett enjoys the presumption of innocence, particularly when there has been an investigation like this one where information, both true and false, has been repeatedly leaked. Given these circumstances, we intend to conduct a thorough investigation and to mount an aggressive defense”.
Here’s what his Co-Star Believes:
According to The Guardian, one of Jussie’s co-stars is standing by him. After the Empire producers announced that Jussie’s character (Jamal Lyon) would be cut from the show, fellow Empire actor and Jussie’s stage dad, Terrence Howard (who plays Lucious Lyon), came forward in support of Jussie. He responded to a critic saying that:
“The Jussie I know could never even conceive of something so unconscious and ugly…His innocence or judgement is not for any of us to decide. Stay in your lane and my lane is empathy and love and compassion for someone that I’ve called my son for five years. It’s God’s job to judge and it is ours to love and hope, especially for those that we claim to have loved. There’s nothing more harmful than a fake friend! Real talk.”.
Howard also posted an Instagram video of the actor along with a supportive caption:
View this post on Instagram
What’s the Most Worrying Thing about This?
The worrying thing about this controversy is the way people are using the Jussie Smollet case to fuel their agendas. People who want to discredit survivors are now using Jussie Smollet as ammunition. When we reduce hate crimes and survivor’s traumas (a very real and continuing problem) to coddling and “victimhood culture“, we do something dangerous. Racism, homophobia, and assault are serious issues. And, no matter the outcome of this case, they will remain serious issues.
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