Smollett smirks at hate crime hoax

Fox announced last Friday that Jussie Smollett, a star on the Emmy-nominated T.V. show Empire, will be cut from the remaining episodes of the final season. Executive producers said they arrived at this decision in order “to avoid disruption on set.” Smollett went back to the Empire set a day before this decision was made after being released on bond following a class 4 felony charge.

Over the past month, Jussie Smollett made headlines. On January 29, reports surfaced he was the victim of a racial and homophobic attack. Allegedly, he was beaten by two white men in ski masks wearing MAGA hats. During the attack, a noose was put around his neck and bleach was poured on him. An outpour of sympathy ensued for the Empire actor as he was hospitalized. Actors and politicians such as Nancy Pelosi, Joe Biden, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and many others took to Twitter to share their shock of the attack and sympathy for Smollett. Chicago police began looking into the incident as a possible “hate crime.”

The first suspicions of his allegations being false began after the initial description of the attackers was discounted. Police instead identified two African American males as people of interest, not two White males as initially reported. More suspicions came after police rejected the documents given to them by Smollett. He was said to be cooperating with police; however, Sgt. Rocco Alioto stated the phone records provided “were limited and heavily redacted.”

People took to social media questioning Smollett’s actions. Additionally, people began to question other aspects of the alleged incident. Many asked why Smollett why he kept the noose around his neck and why he took so long to report the incident.

Two days later, the Empire star appeared on ABC’s Good Morning America in an exclusive interview with Robin Roberts. He expressed his outrage that people were questioning his story of the incident.  He said that pride stopped him from reporting the incident immediately and he kept the rope around his neck so police could “see what it was.”

Later that same day, Chicago police raided the home of the people of interest that were arrested days before. They seized bottles of bleach, electronics, shoes and other items. Reports began to surface from unconfirmed case detectives who said the attack was a hoax. However, the Chief Communications Officer for Chicago Police said these reports were “uninformed and inaccurate.”

The brothers were later released without being charged. Days later, Chicago PD announced Jussie Smollett was being investigated for disorderly conduct because he filed a false police report. Smollett turned himself in the next day.

The turn of events shocked many, Smollett was strongly criticized on social media, with many calling his actions sociopathic. The Chicago Police Chief questioned Smollett’s motives, stating in a press conference that the city of Chicago overwhelmingly supported and embraced the Empire star. Multiple conservative figures claimed Smollett took advantage of the current racial climate in America. Others were dismayed because his actions may deter victims from reporting hate crimes.

The FBI found that hate crimes increased from by 17% in 2017 for the third straight year. Smollett could face up to 3 years in prison and thousands of dollars in fines if convicted.

By: Jabari Turner | Staff Writer