From Alleged Victim to Alleged Felon–Jussie Smollett

By Lily O’Connor:

Jussie Smollett is a hot topic of conversation spanning from the entertainment realm all the way to criminal justice. The Empire actor, openly gay and African-American, is facing criminal charges after allegedly filing a false police report. 

Over three weeks ago, the Chicago police publicly announced Smollett had been the victim of a potential hate crime. Smollett alleged he attacked verbally with racist and homophobic slurs, had a rope tied around his neck and had an unknown substance—speculated to be bleach—poured on him. He was immediately taken to the hospital and the Chicago police were treating the investigation as a hate crime.  

Both fans and those who hadn’t heard of Smollett were offering worldwide support for what seemed to be a terrible crime. 

Recently, the tables have turned and many—the Chicago Police included—are viewing Smollett as no longer a victim, but a suspect. 

Early February 21, almost a month after the January 29 attack, Smollett has surrendered to the police been arrested and is now facing a felony charge for staging an attack. His charge has been deemed disorderly conduct and he is in custody. This is a class 4 felony and could result in one to three years in prison. 

Prior to the “attack” Smollett received a hateful anonymous letter on January 22 and it did not get a lot of media attention. It is speculated this letter not getting much spotlight is what prompted Smollett to stage the attack. It has come to the attention of the police that this letter was staged by Smollett.  

After the letter failed to gain the attention he craved, police say Smollett paid two brothers $3,500 to take out the attack. A CNN live-updates article shows the Chicago police stating all of this. The two Nigerian brothers were reported to be yelling things like “this is MAGA country.” But, according to their lawyer, the brothers were paid by the actor and they have not accepted a plea deal or immunity.

The Chicago police superintendent, Eddie Johnson, claimed that Smollett staged this letter and attack, because he was “dissatisfied with his salary.” Smollett maintains his innocence, his lawyers released a statement saying the actor “feels betrayed by a system that apparently wants to skip due process….”

Prior to today’s news of Smollett surrendering, he had publicly stated that he had no part in this “hate crime.” Many began to doubt his innocence, leading him to turn himself in. 

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