News of the charges against Jussie Smollett getting dropped draws a reaction of both outrage and relief

News of the charges against Jussie Smollett getting dropped draws a reaction of both outrage and relief

The charges against Empire actor Jussie Smollett which allege that he lied to the police about a racist and homophobic attack were dropped on Tuesday, a development that his attorneys hailed as vindication but which angered top city officials who still are calling his victimhood claim a hoax.

The move is a dramatic reversal in a case in which police alleged just last month that the 36-year-old actor hired two acquaintances to attack him along a street in late January to promote his career and then filed a false police report.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel called the deal “a whitewash of justice” and lashed out at Smollett for dragging the city’s reputation “through the mud”, while using the prospect of a hate crime to advance his acting career and is now walking around like he did nothing wrong. The mayor said if Smollett were not an actor with influence, he would have been held to a different legal standard.

“It’s just not right. It’s not right on any level,” he said, also asking, “Is there no decency in this man?”

“A grand jury saw the evidence (and) realized this was a hoax – a hoax on the city, a hoax on hate crimes, a hoax on people of good values who actually were empathetic at first. And he used that empathy for only one reason … himself,” Emanuel said.

“This is without a doubt a whitewash of justice and sends a clear message that if you’re in a position of influence and power, you’ll get treated one way. Other people will be treated another way,” Emanuel said. “There is no accountability in the system. It is wrong, full stop.”

Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said he stood by his detectives’ conclusions: That Smollett staged the attack.

“If you want to say you’re innocent of the situation, then you take your day in court,” Johnson said. “At the end of the day, it’s Mr. Smollett who committed this hoax, period. If he wanted to clear his name, the way to do that was in a court of law so that everybody could see the evidence.”

The prosecutor in the case said he understood that people would question dropping the charges, but that thousands of cases have similar resolutions and Smollett forfeited his bail money and did community service so that the matter would be closed before trial.

The Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office released little about why it abandoned the 16 felony disorderly conduct charges, except to say it came after reviewing the case’s facts, and that the actor agreed to forfeit his $10,000 bond. Parts of the case will be sealed, one of Smollett’s attorneys said.

“After reviewing all of the facts and circumstances of the case, including Mr. Smollett’s volunteer service in the community and agreement to forfeit his bond to the City of Chicago, we believe this outcome is a just disposition and appropriate resolution to this case,” the state’s attorney’s office said in a statement.

Smollett performed a total of 16 hours of volunteer service on Saturday and Monday for the Rainbow Push Coalition, which was founded by the Rev. Jesse Jackson. A spokesman for the group could not say whether the service was related to this case.

First Assistant State’s Attorney Joseph Magats, the lead prosecutor, said the charges would not have been dropped without the bond forfeiture and the community service factor. He added that Smollett had no prior felonies and wasn’t a danger to the community.

“He was prosecuted. It may not have been the disposition that everybody thought would occur,” Magats reportedly said. “He did do community service. He did forfeit $10,000. It’s a fair and just disposition in the case.”

Magats said there were 5,700 other cases with similar results, but this one stood out in the media because of the defendant’s celebrity.

When asked whether he considered Smollett to be innocent, the prosecutor said, “No.”

Smollett’s attorneys maintain that the actor was indeed attacked in Chicago on January 29 and that misinformation led to a rush to judgment against him.

After a brief appearance in a courtroom where the charges were formally dropped, Smollett told reporters Tuesday morning he was thankful to everyone who stood by him, and that he wouldn’t have put his family “through a fire like this” for a lie.

“I have been truthful and consistent on every single level since Day One,” Smollett said before leaving the court building. “I would not be my mother’s son if I was capable of one drop of what I’ve been accused of.”

In a statement released Tuesday morning, Smollett’s attorneys, Holmes and Tina Glandian, said the actor was “a victim who was vilified and made to appear as a perpetrator as a result of false and inappropriate remarks made to the public, causing an inappropriate rush to judgment.”

“This entire situation is a reminder that there should never be an attempt to prove a case in the court of public opinion,” the statement reads. “That is wrong. It is a reminder that a victim, in this case Jussie, deserves dignity and respect. Dismissal of charges against the victim in this case was the only just result.

“Jussie is relieved to have this situation behind him and is very much looking forward to getting back to focusing on his family, friends and career.”

Smollett’s friends and colleagues have also weighed in on the news.

Taraji P. Henson, who stars with Smollett on the Fox drama Empire, told USA Today that she believed in his innocence from the beginning, “because I know him and I know his track record.”

“I’m happy that the truth has finally been set free, because I knew it all along,” Henson said. “We’re all happy for him, and thank God the truth prevailed.”

Empire actress Gabourey Sidibe posted a picture of Smollett on Instagram and wrote: “It’s weird that y’all decided that the police were being 100% honest about this case.”

Director Ava DuVernay resurfaced a previous tweet from last month in which she wrote about the complicated history of the Chicago Police Department and the African-American community.

“Despite the inconsistencies, I can’t blindly believe Chicago PD. The department that covered up shooting Laquan McDonald over a dozen times? That operated an off-site torture facility? That one? I’ll wait. Whatever the outcome, this won’t stop me from believing others,” DuVernay wrote. “It can’t.”

The Roots frontman QuestLove simply tweeted, “TOLD YALL.”

An official account for the writers of Empire posted a screenshot of a CNN report about Tuesday’s developments, with a winky face emoji and the caption, “See y’all Wednesday. #empire #empirefox.”

Actor Devon Sawa tweeted: “The Smollett announcement is yet another example of how our court system is broken. Lawyers look for loopholes and mistakes and then negotiate deals.”

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6 Comments

  1. OgheneTobore
    March 27, 08:10 Reply

    The Justice system is so faulty, full of loopholes and always favors the ones with deep pockets of cash and influence.

    This case just made a clear message. Mr. Smollett’s presecution is such a slap on the wrist! What’s $10k to a man that receives at least thrice that amount as salary for each episode of the hit show he stars in? What’s 72 hours of community service hours to a man who is having so much extra time at the moment?

    Mr. Smollett is a liar, self centered prick and now that much of the case proceedings have been sealed, we will never really know what happened. One thing I know though is that I can’t be fooled by legal whitewashing.

    The actor may be free now, but he surely has damaged his career, all for this. He better lube up that bussy for Lee Daniel’s dick cus bn Lee Daniel’s bitch is now his only option for Fame and employment at this point.

    • Higwe
      March 27, 11:35 Reply

      What if he didn’t lie ?_we weren’t there _we don’t know what transpired _have you ever thought about it ?

  2. Mandy
    March 27, 13:04 Reply

    This Jussie Smollett case has gotten so messy, I don’t even know what opinion to have anymore. I know one thing for certain, I don’t belong fully in the camp that he is innocent or that he is guilty. I suspect the truth is somewhere in between.

  3. cedar
    March 28, 10:05 Reply

    This whole case’s just making me dizzy, period.

  4. Rainbow Nova
    April 02, 14:27 Reply

    I’ll say this now and I’ll stand by it always @OgheneTobere & Mandy and every doubting Thomas out there,
    I know he’s innocent. It doesn’t matter if it’ll take a decade or more to prove it but he is and I don’t need to see the rope or clothes he wore to believe him, I just wish our community would protect and defend each other in faith and trust but honestly you should be ashamed, a hate crime to a publicly recognized black gay man forget celebrity status and financial muscle, it’s a fucking bloody hate crime (literally) and only one of a million of its kind if not better than most, at least it got reported (or could be reported) to legal authorities and he got medical treatment early (or at all) and he’s able to fight for justice (or really at all). It’s not just about him, it’s about *us*, remember guys *us*? ’Cause we’re a family and we’re together in this? Or is the rainbow 🌈symbol or pride month just a farce to you?

    It’s really not hard to believe his innocence, it’s just a choice to stand by the truth, evil will try to bring down good no matter what and in every way, even with evidence people still won’t believe, lol when do you want to believe it? When the video is posted online for all to see? Or the police eventually admit it’s credible and true? Or the attackers are caught and prosecuted? You don’t want to believe anything ’cause you don’t know what to believe and that’s not on him but you, that’s the truth because if you really did have good judgement (at all), you’d know he’s telling the truth, he always has and he always will. Love you, Jussie and I look forward to seeing you on Wednesday and meet you someday to say “I told ’em so” to the world who didn’t believe you (whether they’re convinced or not).

    Charges were dropped by the persecutors themselves but y’all still choose to be “confused”, well all the best, better live in peace and accept the truth before it hits you in the face with another headline.

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