Jussie Smollett is speaking out to say his case was a set up, and he’s not the only one.
Jussie Smollett has started to publicly discuss his controversial and alleged 2019 hate crime. The former Empire star recently talked about the case while in an Instagram Live conversation with activist, author, and Temple University professor Lamont Hill.
“It’s been beyond frustrating … to not be able to say all of the things that you want to say, to not be able to yell from the rooftop,” Smollett said during the Wednesday interview. “I’m still taking the advice of my attorneys … but I just don’t really see honestly what staying quiet has really done. Where it has gotten me?”
The controversy surrounding Jussie Smollett began in late-January of 2019. Early reports told of Smollett being attacked while walking around Chicago around 2 a.m. The actor said that he went out to grab good and was allegedly attacked by two men wearing ski masks and MAGA hats. Smollett says that despite fighting the two men off, one of the men was able to wrap a noose around his neck and throw a chemical substance at Smollett.
As the investigation continued, however, police came forward with two suspects that alleged the entire incident was staged by Smollett. Two brothers, Abimbola and Olabinjo Osundairo, said that they met Smollett as extras and fitness trainers on the Empire set. According to them, Smollett paid them $3,500 to stage the assault. Public opinion on the incident then shifted against Jussie Smollett. Even Donald Trump publicly ridiculed the actor.
Smollett was then arrested in February 2019 for coordinating the attack. Then in March, he was cleared of all charges. Later, special prosecutor Dan Webb, who has previously worked for Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, was brought on to investigate why the charges were dropped. This led to a new six-count indictment being placed on Smollett, to which he pleaded not guilty.
“They won’t let this go,” said Smollett to Hill. “It doesn’t matter — there is an example being made. And the sad part is that there’s an example being made of someone who did not do what they are being accused of.”
Despite those words, Smollett says he doesn’t want to “be portrayed as a victim.” He just doesn’t like that the police have allegedly been framing him as a villain.
“From the very, very beginning, it was set up to seem like I was lying about something or everything,” he explained.
Despite the Chicago Police Department and the general public believing the staged attack story, there are many notable figures, especially within the Black Lives Matter and Black Rights circles, openly supporting him. Angela Davis, Danny Scott, and more released an open letter through Love B Scott before the interview stating that they still support Smollett.
They state that the Chicago Police Department withheld evidence from the public that collaborated with Smollett’s story. For instance, a neighbor reported seeing a “white man with a rope hanging from his pocket waiting outside Jussie’s apartment.” In addition, CPD claims that a motion-activated video camera turned off just before Smollett attacked. They then brought into question the legitimacy of the CPD given their history of covering up cases associated with Chicago’s Black citizens.
“We believe Jussie, not the CPD,” they wrote. “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.”
The letter also brings up the Osundairo brothers and alleges that the police forced the two men to either confess or implicate Jussie. This was after police found illegal guns and drugs in their apartment.
“Initially, they refused. 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.”
For Jussie Smollet, he argues that he had no reason to attempt a staged attack and then lose everything for it.
“People’s history should mean something. And I do think that if you look at all of the things that were happening for me, and all of the opportunities, and all of the money … that I have lost at this point, if in fact what they said was true, the smart thing to do would be to admit that, because at least there would be a place to work back from.”