Last month, “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett filed a hate crime report with the Chicago police department. Smollett claimed two men attacked him, poured an unknown chemical on him, and tied a noose around his neck, while yelling racial and homophobic slurs and saying “this is MAGA country n*****.” Smollett later went to the hospital to treat his “wounds” and share the report with the media.
When news of the attack broke, social media blew up. Multiple people, even celebrities tweeted about the incident. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted: “There is no such thing as “racially charged.” This attack was not “possibly” homophobic. It was a racist and homophobic attack. If you don’t like what is happening to our country, then work to change it. It is no one’s job to water down or sugar-coat the rise of hate crimes.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi chimed in about the alleged incident by also taking to Twitter by saying: “The racist, homophobic attack on [Jussie Smollett] is an affront to our humanity. No one should be attacked for who they are or whom they love. I pray that Jussie has a speedy recovery & that justice is served. May we all commit to ending this hate once and for all.” Pelosi has since deleted the tweet.
“Empire” creator Lee Daniels said in a video message he posted to Instagram: “We have to love each other regardless of what sexual orientation we are because it shows that we are united on a united front. And no racist f*** can come in and do the things that they did to you. Hold your head up, Jussie. I’m with you.”
Smollett continued to play the victim through the next three weeks while authorities went through multiple surveillance tapes and interviewed suspects. On Feb. 13, authorities arrested suspects Olabinjo Osundairo and Abimbola Osundairo, two brothers from Nigeria, who Smollett identified as the attackers. The two were questioned by Chicago police and released Friday without charges being filed against and “new evidence” being discovered.
The new evidence was a video of the brothers buying the supplies for the attack after given a list from Smollett. The brother’s attorney, Gloria Schmidt, told reporters that the brothers were paid by Smollett for the attack.
On Feb. 20, Smollett was charged with disorderly conduct for allegedly filing a false report claiming the two men attacked him last month, according to a Chicago Police Department spokesman. Under Illinois code, filing a false report is a felony. Smollett had a scheduled bail hearing the next day at 1:30 p.m. Due to the time of publication we were unable to include those events.
So, what does this mean for future victims of alleged hate crimes? Because Smollett is a prominent figure, the next case will not be believed as much as his alleged attack.
Much like the Covington Catholic story, the media was quick to attack rather than slow down and go through all the facts-basic principles journalism and media communication majors are taught. Due to the way our justice system is set-up, Smollett is innocent until proven guilty, but if found guilty he should face a serious sentence.