Since Donald Trump’s ‘Make America Great Again’ presidential campaign first began in 2015, there has been an increasing tension regarding racial issues. So, when Jussie Smollett reported being the victim of a hate-crime, the Fox Network’s Empire star received a massive influx of support.
Allegedly, on January 29th, Smollett was walking home in the early hours of the morning, when he heard a man calling out to him. According to Smollett, the man yelled raciest and homophobic slurs before he attacked him. The two exchanged blows until a second assailant appeared and the two overpowered Smollett, choking him, hanging a noose from his throat and pouring “an unknown chemical substance” on him. As both a bi-racial and openly gay actor, Smollett has long advocated for justice and tolerance increasing the sensitivity of the crime.
However, the arrest of the two brothers who were accused of committing the crime brought new information to the case. The brothers, who have known and worked around Smollett, claim that the actor paid them to stage the crime. They told Chicago police they received a $3,500 compensation and presented the signed check as evidence. Two other unnamed sources have corroborated the story and Chicago Police Department’s Superintendent Eddie Johnson expressed his outrage during a press conference held February 21,2019.
“We just don’t have any room for hatred in this city and for somebody to use it for a personal gain is just shameful because what that does is take away the resources we could be using in other crimes,” Superintendent Johnson stated. Johnson also spoke of the repercussion cases like Smollett’s can have on similarly reported cases. “My concern is that hate crimes will now publicly be met with a level of skepticism that previously didn’t happen.”
Jussie Smollett was taken into custody and charged with felony disorderly conduct. He remains firm that his statement was not falsified. Influencers who initially responded with love and support are still holding out that this is so. Tyler Perry, best known for his character Madea, hopes for the case to end in Smollett’s favor. Ellen Page, starring in Netflix’s new Umbrella Academy, identifies as a lesbian and endorsed the Smollett case as an example of the hate still faced by members of the LGBTQ+ community. Since the Chicago PD press conference, Page wrote for the Hollywood Reporter stating, “I ask you not to question our pain, not to draw in question our trauma, but to maintain wholeheartedly, that hate violence exists.”