21 Feb 2019
On 29 Jan 2019 Jussie Smollett claimed he was attacked by two men wearing a MAGA hat (Make America Great Again) indicating their support for Donald Trump. Smollett is a black man and a homosexual. He is an actor currently on the cast of the Fox Network’s Empire which is filmed in Chicago.
He said he was beaten, had bleach poured on his head and a noose was placed around his neck.
Initially I gave him the benefit of the doubt but there were some issues with his story that bothered me.
* It was extremely cold that night, dangerously cold. The temperature was around -20°F (-29°C). Smollett said that he was returning home from a nearby Subway sandwich shop. For him to be out in that weather was insane. Also the attackers would not be wandering around with the temperature so low. Even if they were, they would not be wearing a MAGA hat.
* Smollett was on Lower Wacker Drive when the attack took place. Lower Wacker Drive runs underneath other streets at the basement level of the buildings. It is not a pleasant place nor is it particularly safe. There was no good reason for Smollett to be there. He could easily have gotten to his home staying above ground.
* Smollett walked past the doorman of his building but the man did not smell any bleach on Smollett.
* Smollett originally refused to let the police examine his phone. (Smollett says he was on the phone when the attack took place.) When he finally turned over his phone records, it was heavily redacted. He was hiding something.
* Smollett said that the attackers yelled “This is MAGA country.” Donald Trump only got 12.5% of the vote in Chicago in the 2016. It is hardly MAGA country. The area where the incident took place is a very liberal area, definitely not MAGA country. By bringing in the MAGA hat, he played to the common belief that all Trump supporters are evil, further dividing the country.
* Despite the multiple problems in his story, Smollett claimed that the only reason anyone would doubt his story is that they were a racist or a homophobe or both. He was trying to shame people into believing him instead of convincing them with facts.
After several weeks of investigation the Chicago Police Department determined that the incident was a hoax and Smollett has now admitted that both this hoax and an earlier hoax involving a letter containing a white powder were done because he was upset that he was only being paid $20,000 per episode of Empire in which he appeared. I don’t think too many people are going to feel sorry for him.
While the fraud involving the attack is a local felony, his use of the US mail for the powdered substance fraud is a federal felony and people have received a 20 year sentence for similar acts.
However, that is not the worst of it:
* There are a lot of murders in Chicago and each murder is assigned two detectives to investigate. Only one out of every six murders are solved. Twelve detectives, as many as six murders, were assigned to tracking down the men who Smollett claimed attacked him.
* What if the police had arrested someone in this case. Smollett would have had to lie, say they were guilty and have them sent to prison just because of his ego.
Needless to say, Chicagoans are upset. They want the book thrown at Smollett. What do you think?
Text © Gary J. Sibio. All rights reserved.
Clip art is in the public domain.
Do you believe that Jussie Smollett should be prosecuted?