Several LGBTQ and Black rights groups say it’s time to leave Jussie Smollett alone.
15,000 people have signed a petition calling for special prosecutor Daniel Webb to drop the current charges against actor Jussie Smollett. According to Yahoo News, the petition and letter was led by the National Black Justice Coalition and includes support from other notable groups like Black AIDS Institute, National LGBTQ Task Force, Black Gifted and Whole, National Center for Lesbian Rights, Community Renewal Society, and the Mobilizing Our Brother’s Initiative.
“We, the undersigned, write to urge you as the special prosecutor to drop the charges against Mr. Jussie Smollett,” the letter reads. “While we do not condone the filing of any false claim, particularly of a hate crime, Mr. Smollett’s ongoing prosecution raises serious concerns in the civil rights community.”
The letter goes further to say that Smollett’s case is full of unnecessary and forceful bias.
“Mr. Smollett’s case fits an unfortunate pattern of anti-Black, anti-queer bias, in which Black queer people are disproportionate targets of unrelenting discrimination, policing, and state-sanctioned violence,” it reads. “This pattern is clear when juxtaposed against the treatment of white people accused of similar crimes.”
To defend this stance, the letter compares Smollett’s case to that of Amy Cooper, a white woman who called 911 on birdwatcher, and fellow gay Black man, Christian Cooper in Central Park last year. Amy Cooper was not prosecuted for her actions, due to an act of compassion from Christian Cooper. This is a arguement that Daily Show host Trevor Noah shared last year.
“The damage done to Mr. Smollett is not just reputational,” the letter continues. “Over the past two years, he has suffered considerable hardship, with the loss of contracts, endorsements, and other professional opportunities; having to vacate his home…
It then adds, “When the Chicago Police Department released documents related to Mr. Smollett’s case to the public, his private information, including his phone number and home address, became widely available. The personal information of others involved in the case, however, was redacted. Mr. Smollett was forced to immediately vacate his apartment to maintain his safety.”
Two years ago, Smollett reported that he was the victim of a hate crime in Chicago. Early reports spoke of Smollett being attacked while walking through Chicago around 2 a.m. He initially said he had gone out to get food from a Subway sandwich shop. Smollett reported to police that he was attacked by two men wearing ski masks and MAGA hats. He says he tried to fight off the two men and one man wrapped a noose around his neck in the middle of the altercation. There was also mention of a chemical substance being thrown at Smollett.
After initially receiving public support, Smollett’s account of the attack was quickly called into question. Surveillance footage caught two men walking in the area around the time of the attack. Chicago police later came forward with testimony from two brothers, Abimbola and Olabinjo Osundairo. The two, who were extras and fitness trainers from Smollett’s show Empire, alleged that Smollett paid them $3,500 to stage the attack.
Public opinion quickly shifted against Smollett and the actor was arrested and charged in February 2019 for coordinating the attack. Those charges were then dropped a month later. But then, Dan Webb started an investigation into the case and raised a new six-count indictment against Smollett.
The above-mentioned letter in support of Jussie Smollett wasn’t the only one of its kind, however. Last year, several civil rights groups and leaders like Angela Davis and Danny Scott released an open letter expressing their support of the defamed star. That letter noted how the Chicago Police Department is known for conducting shady investigations and has a history of covering up cases associated with Chicago’s Black citizens.
The earlier letter also noted how evidence in support of Smollett was withheld from the public. For instance, a neighbor reported seeing a “white man with a rope hanging from his pocket waiting outside Jussie’s apartment.”
The CPD also claims that a motion-activated video camera turned off just before Smollett’s attack. Plus, they question the legitimacy of the Osundairo brothers’ testimony as police found illegal guns and drugs in their apartment. The letter alleges that police forced the brothers to falsely implicate Jussie Smollett.
“Initially, they refused,” the 2020 letter reads. “But after 47 hours of detention and high-pressure interrogation, the brothers relented. Unsurprisingly, after co-operating and incriminating Jussie, they were released without charges.”
“We believe Jussie, not the CPD,” it adds. “We believe this case is being used to distract us from the countless acts of racial injustice perpetrated by police against Black people and LBGTQ people and particularly in the wake of the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Jacob Blake and many others.”
Whether you believe Jussie Smollett lied about the attack or not, these two letters do bring up a few interesting questions. Why did the Chicago Police Department downplay or outright hide evidence in support of Smollett? And, why is Daniel Webb still focusing his time, and taxpayers’ money, on the previously dismissed case?
Source: Yahoo News,