CHICAGO, Ill. (FNN NEWS) – The healines blared, “Empire star Jussie Smollett attacked in possible hate crime” (CNN). “Jussie Smollett hospitalized after an apparent hate crime” (Extra).
JUSSIE SMOLLET’S CASE IN A NUTSHELL
Smollett, an actor on the Fox show “Empire,” reported to Chicago Police that on January 29th, he was attacked by two unidentified men that hurled homophobic and racial slurs at him as he was walking back to his hotel after visiting a sandwich shop. His Chicago police report states that the men punched him and also poured a chemical on him. They also placed a rope in noose fashion around Smollett’s neck and one of the men was heard saying, “This is MAGA country!” before fleeing the scene. Smollett, who is black and happens to be gay, took himself to a local hospital where he was reported to be in good condition.
The impact of the reported crime hit social media and news airwaves rapidly, sending fury among the LGBTQ and black communities. Fans of Smollett and co-stars of the hit show “Empire” expressed their concern about the rise of hate crimes taking place at a time when racial tensions are high and the blame is pointed at supporters of President Trump. Many others were skeptical the attack ever happened.
Police immediately put dozens of officers on the case along with the assistance of the FBI. As weeks passed, police were able to track down two suspects who were brought in and questioned. During police interviews it was determined that the two suspects were brothers of Nigerian descent. They were also persons known by Smollett with one even working as an extra on the “Empire” show. Investigators provided video evidence showing the brothers purchasing the rope from a store days before the attack. Raids on the apartment they shared revealed household bleach and other items that were confiscated and taken as evidence.
The outpouring of support from celebrities and even political figures took a turn when the brothers revealed to police that Smollett helped set up and plan his attack. During their police interview, they claimed Smollett paid them $3,500 to rough him up. Police sources claim the brothers also told them that Smollett was upset because a prior incident where a white powder and a threatening letter was mailed to him but had not gained much police interest.
With the new information, police have shifted their path of the investigation and is no longer referring to Smollett as a victim. The brothers were questioned and released by police. As police began their new investigative track they requested for Smollett to come back in to be interviewed again based on the new information.
Just like that, Smollett’s supporters began to back away. He has also been labeled a “liar.” As of this writing, Smollett has yet to agree to sit back down and speak with investigators. Media headlines changed as well. “Police sources: New evidence suggest Jussie Smollett orchestrated attack” (CNN).
IS SHAMING SMOLLETT RIGHT?
So, one thing people really hate is an alleged victim that fabricates the crime they claim they were the victim of. People have called for Smollett’s arrest and blacks, gays and supporters of the president are all furious. Even with the few supporters he still has, Smollett has easily become one of the most hated persons in America at the moment. If the suggestion is that he planned and paid for his attack, he will have hurt a lot of people on each side of the case. But what happens if he was truthful?
Police in Chicago at this point have not released any evidence that actually backs up what the brothers claim. Even tips about Smollett being seen in an elevator with the brothers on the night of the attack cannot be verified by police. They are reviewing phone records from the brothers’ phones and they still are waiting for Smollett to come speak with them. So far there is no arrest of the brothers and nothing to arrest Smollett on. So where does it go from here? If there is evidence to suggest Smollett did plan the attack, why is the police requesting him to come in? Why don’t they just go pick him up, bring him in and question him like they did the brothers? This one case has caused so much anger among social and demographic groups. No one really knows but just about everyone has already formed their opinion of what happened.
One last thing to think about: What if the brothers were brought in and questioned, but before police located them, they had already agreed to say if caught they would just claim Smollett asked and paid them to attack him? Is that possible? Smollett is claiming the brothers’ statement is not true. I have interviewed suspects before and they have blamed others as well. They turned out not to be truthful. So, does the police have any other evidence to say otherwise? Surely more evidence will come, but at this point, police are still investigating. Do they really have an idea of what did or did not happen?
This case of Jussie Smollett’s attack is sure to be closely watched but regardless of the outcome, there will be plenty of healing that needs to take place because of it.
Jim Randle is a former law enforcement officer and is a Florida National News contributor. | firstname.lastname@example.org