An inclusive world that accepts and embraces each human being despite all our differences is the ideal place to live. What happens when that remains a mere dream? Jussie Smollett, an actor, was involved in a scandal where he reported to the Chicago police that two gutsy masked men attacked him for being black and gay. This renowned actor who stars as Jamal in the Fox Empire series said he was assaulted in the early morning of January 29, 2019. Was this true? Why can’t humans be more tolerant of each other?
Early Tuesday morning right outside the Loews Hotel in the streets of Chicago, the actor claims to have been a victim of assailants who uttered homophobic and racialist invectives. The police, after filing his report, categorised the attack as a radically incited racial physical attack. According to his claims, he was physically injured, and an attempt on his life using a noose was made.
These severe allegations prompted the Chicago Police Department to conduct thorough investigations on the 36-year-old’s accusations. It was established that the Jussie Smollett injuries were minor. In the course of unravelling the truth, the police found a petrifying letter that was addressed to the actor. It had not only threatening anti-gay oratory but also a whitish powder that could be dangerous. It was later established that the powder was a bleaching agent.
What transpired that morning?
Fans and other interested parties of every famous person always try to find out more information about them. This is not limited to their public lives, but also their private lives including their family members, intimate relationships, hobbies and their overall quality of life. Jussie Smollett has over the years not been spared from this. It was, however, Jussie Smollett latest news involving an atrocious attack that awakened a lot of interest from not only his fans but also the media and world and large.
The police findings regarding his claims have since been made public, and the nature of his character has been evaluated and questioned.Following the purportedly vicious attack, Smollett was admitted at the Northwestern Memorial Hospital. During his admission period and after discharge, he repeatedly asserted that the attack was masterminded by people who did not like him or accept him for being openly gay and for being a person of colour.
These grave claims gave the detectives more reason to find and disclose the truth. The primary suspects were identified and booked in for questioning as well as all other procedural activities that must be conducted per the law. Soon, more details were divulged to the public. A CCTV footage showed that the two assailants were people on a specific mission and they yelled offensive statements such as “This is MAGA country” and “Aren’t you that faggot ‘Empire’ nigger?”
Assaults that are racially and sexually driven have been occurring in the United States for many decades now. Campaigns have been conducted to promote inclusivity, acceptance and tolerance for each other. Despite these efforts, numerous similar cases continue to be reported to the police department each day.
Perhaps an attack on a famous actor was the stepping stone to making the public understand the depth of this deep-rooted societal menace. If a public figure could be attacked, what of the lesser known person in the grassroots level who is both gay and a person of colour? Indeed, the attack on the actor led to many questions and increased awareness about this matter.
Reactions from Fox Entertainment and the public
Much uproar was observed from Smollett’s supporters and fellow actors and actresses especially the Empire cast following the reported attack. Notable figures who openly criticised and condemned the attack included Taraji P. Henson who also starred in the Empire series as his mother. In her statement, she repeatedly emphasised the importance of a love that conquers all ills and termed her colleague as a loveable person. Her words, in part, read;
“Just stay the Jussie that everybody loves, and you saw the outpour of love that he had. He has touched a lot of people in his career. So I just told him, just walk in your truth baby. No one can take that from you.”
A statement from Fox Entertainment and TV read;
“We send our love to Jussie, who is resilient and strong, and we will work with law enforcement to bring these perpetrators to justice,” the company wrote in a statement. “The entire studio, network and production stands united in the face of any despicable act of violence and hate — and especially against one of our own.”
The outcry and uproar from the public was not limited to famous people, but also from numerous citizens via different social media platforms. On Twitter, some of the comments from the people who condemned the attack and showed support for the actor were;
Ryan Jamaal Swain@RyanJamaal: This is why holding “a little homophobic joke” accountable is taken so FREAKING SERIOUSLY. To quote @amandaseales, you have to be overly confident...black gay men have to deal w/ not only racism but homophobia.” It is always abt duality and a form of respect. @JussieSmollett
Reverend Al Sharpton@TheRevAl: The reported hate attack on my friend and brother, actor Jussie Smollett is despicable and outrageous. The guilty must face the maximum.
Jenny Han@jennyhan: This is beyond horrifying. My heart goes out to @JussieSmollett.
Saeed Jones@theferocity: Given what we’ve seen so far, I fully expect the men who attacked Jussie Smollett to score a sit-down interview with Ellen at some point in the next few weeks. Maybe it will be a roundtable discussion with Kevin Hart.
Jussie Smollett reacts to the love and support
Similar to any other related activities of indignity in the past, Smollett received plenty of support, but a few people felt differently. Some people thought that the incident had been magnified unnecessarily. Regardless of the conflict in perception, Smollett appreciated the support and strength he received from most people during the trying period. In an elaborate statement of thanksgiving via Essence, he said;
“Let me start by saying that I’m OK. My body is strong, but my soul is stronger. More importantly, I want to say thank you. The outpouring of love and support from my village has meant more than I will ever be able to truly put into words.”
He then continued;
“Despite my frustrations and deep concern with certain inaccuracies and misrepresentations that have been spread, I still believe that justice will be served.”
A shocking twist to the story- Is this the truth?
Following investigations and tabling of evidence, the jury at Cook County established that Smollett had staged the attack, much to the surprise of the public. After this February 20 revelation, Smollett was detained and indicted of the felony and inappropriate behaviour. He was later freed on bond. The Fox Entertainment team unceremoniously evicted him from their Empire series. Soon afterwards, the actor was accused of 16 more counts for deceiving the police about a crime of hate.
The Jussie Smollett police officials further reported that the letter was also fabricated. He was arraigned in court for these charges on the 8th of March, 2019. The superintendent also alleged that Smollett was responsible for the planning and execution of the attack on himself. They reported that he sought attention by jotting down a threatening letter addressed to himself. The letter failed to attract the attention he sought. He thus resulted in a more radical technique that involved him paying off two black brothers to carry out the attack.
What was his motivation? The officials argued that he was not content with the remuneration that Fox Entertainment was offering him for his acting skills. They further said that the actor was barely injured during the attack by the masked brothers and that they had records to prove that the trio kept communicating before the attack and afterwards. Smollett paid them $3,500 for the work, an amount that was indicated as payment for personal physical fitness training services.
Interviews that were conducted on over 100 persons in the area of the attack were in line with the police findings.. On the 15th of February, 2019, the brothers were released from custody. Did Smollett orchestrate the assault? The public asked this query frequently. The Chicago Police Department released more Jussie Smollett news whenever it was necessary.
The department further supported its argument by declaring that the actor was hesitant about meeting the investigating officials for complementary questioning. The 40-minute gap between the actual attack and the call to the police was also alarming. He had also declined to hand over his cell-phone to the authorities.
The final verdict is out!
The public eagerly waited to hear the final readings on this extraordinary case, but on March 26, 2019, all charges against Smollett were dropped. The prosecutors stated that this was done following a fresh review of all the facts that were presented to the court after Smollett forfeited his bond of $10,000. Interestingly, the actor willingly opted to give the bond to the city which was an unusual move since all the bond money is typically given back to the defendant when charges are let go.
Today, the actor is a free human being. The Chicago police were, however, not pleased with this verdict. The superintendent claimed that fairness was not upheld.
Smollett speaks after charges are dropped
Soon after all charges against him were dropped, Smollett talked to the media and the people present outside the courthouse. He showed deep emotion as he uttered words of gratitude to his family and the allies who stood by him since the infamous event happened. He asserted that he had remained truthful and unwavering since the early Tuesday attack on that fateful morning even if the entire period since then had been daunting. He went on to sign autographs while vowing to support victims and to assist in combating the humiliation of the marginalised populations.
His lawyer added that his client was a victim who was humiliated more by being made the villain in the attack. He confidently emphasised that the dropping of the charges was the only fair and truthful judgment. Smollett now wants to focus all his energy on his career and the people who are closest to him.
The twists and turns in the scandal involving Jussie Smollett can only be matched to a well-written fantasy crime play. The occurrences enflame more questions than answers. Did the actor maintain an accurate account or what transpired? Did the Chicago policemen unravel the veiled truth before the accusations were dropped? Well, the case has been finalised. We can only hope that society stands united against any acts of hate and instead becomes more tolerant of our diversities. We also hope that the actor resumes his acting career and prospers!