Actor Jussie Smollett, who is best known for his role as a scion of the Lyon family on Fox television’s Empire, is embroiled in a very curious case. On January 29, 2019, the Chicago police received a call from Jussie saying he was attacked by two masked men who hurled racial and homophobic slurs at him saying, “This is MAGA country” before dousing him with a liquid (later identified as bleach) and placing a noose around his neck. Smollett subsequently garnered sympathy from people all across the country. Later, the tables quickly turned after an investigation by the Chicago Police Department (CPD) concluded that Smollett lied, resulting in him being charged with making a false police report, and disorderly conduct.
Chicago Superintendent of Police Eddie Johnson interviewed two brothers, American born but with Nigerian roots, Abel and Ola Osundairo, who were allegedly put up in a nice hotel paid for by the CPD for 5 days during the interview period. Without interviewing Smollett, and relying solely on the Osundairo brothers’ testimony, CPD concluded that Smollett lied about the attack. The brothers allegedly said that Smollett paid them to stage the attack on him. There was an actual video of them purchasing “supplies” for the debacle. Eddie Johnson took that and ran with it. Before Smollett even had his day in court, Johnson went on television and shared the Osundairo brothers’ story. A theory about why Smollett lied was also shared. It was opined that he wanted “attention.” It was also said that Smollett wanted an increase in salary for his role on Empire. A $3,500 check that Smollett gave the brothers was alleged to be payment for them carrying out the staged attack. As it turned out, Empire personnel denied that Smollett was unsatisfied with his salary. It was also discovered, from emails and later from the Osundairo brothers who changed their story, that the money was actually for training services. Prior to this time, however, people had already jumped on the bandwagon that was driven by Eddie Johnson. Smollett was given a 16-count indictment based on the testimony provided by the brothers.
Fast forward to Smollett’s actual day in court; all of the charges against him were dropped. It could have been the result of the fact that Superintendent Johnson had sullied the waters to such an extent that it would be impossible for Smollett to get an unbiased trial, or that prosecution thought the case was unwinnable due to lack of evidence. After the verdict, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Supt. Eddie Johnson went on television loudly decrying the verdict. They said, Smollett, in so many words, had smeared the city making it a national embarrassment. At press time the city was in the process of requesting $130,000 from Smollett because of the expenses that were incurred during the investigation. In addition, CPD scheduled a demonstration to be held on Monday, April 1, to protest the verdict. Adding to the mystery and intrigue is the fact that the case has been sealed. Smollett volunteered to do a couple of days of community service BEFORE he went to court, and he later forfeited his $10,000 bond. This is one of the main issues that people conclude that he is guilty.
Basically, Jussie Smollett has been judged by the court of public opinion. The tentacles of what has become a vendetta have reached Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, who actually recused herself from the case because she had contact with someone in Smollett’s family when he was still considered a victim. There are calls to get rid of her. A heavily redacted police report revealed that Smollett was initially reluctant to call the police. Also, Mayor Rahm Emanuel admitted that Smollett was charged with a “sliver” of evidence. Today, Jussie Smollett continues to claim that he is innocent. The $64 million question is this: why would a young successful actor jeopardize his career to stage a bogus attack against himself? What did he have to gain? We know that something happened, but we are just not sure what it was. What is certain, is that Jussie Smollett has been vilified with a sliver of evidence, and most people believe that he is a despicable human being for inflaming an already volatile racial climate. A cautionary note: we should not rush to judgment, especially egged on by a city administration that lied about the 16 shots that Jason Van Dyke pumped into the Black teen, Laquan McDonald. A Luta Continua.