On Thursday, March 10th, actor, and singer Jussie Smollett, 39, was sentenced to 150 days in jail over false allegations that he was a victim of a hate crime. CNN reports that in addition to the jail time, the “Empire,” actor will serve 30-months of probation and was also ordered to pay $120,000 in restitution to the city of Chicago as well as a $25,000 fine for filing the false police report. The ruling comes after an extensive trial that stemmed from Smollett’s 2019 claim that he was the victim of a hate crime. In the initial report, Smollett alleged that he was attacked while in Chicago by two men who put a noose around his neck, poured bleach on him, and yelled racist and homophobic slurs. Many celebrities came to his defense and the Chicago Police Department launched an official investigation. Their findings determined that Smollett had staged the attack himself and that the two attackers in question were Nigerian brothers, Abimbola Osundairo and Ola Osundairo. The brothers claimed that not only did Jussie orchestrate the entire plan of his attack, but that he had paid them to carry out the said attack in order to generate more publicity for himself.
Although he maintained his innocence, Jussie was ultimately charged with six counts of disorderly conduct on suspicion of making false reports to police. He pleaded not guilty to all the charges. In December 2021, a jury convicted Jussie on five of the six counts of felony disorderly conduct where he faced up to three years in prison. During his official sentencing, the judge, James B. Linn lambasted Smollett saying, “You took some scabs off some healing wounds, and you ripped them apart and for one reason: you wanted to make yourself more famous.” He added, “You're not a victim of a racial hate crime, you're not a victim of a homophobic hate crime. You're just a charlatan pretending to be a victim of a hate crime, and that's shameful."
After receiving his sentence, Smollett pulled down his face mask and said to the judge and jury, “Your honor, I respect you and I respect the jury, but I did not do this.” He continued saying, “And I am not suicidal. And if anything happens to me when I go in there, I did not do it to myself. And you must all know that.” As he was escorted out of the courtroom and into custody by the bailiff, he raised his fist and continued to proclaim his innocence. Jussie will serve out his sentence in the Cook County Jail in Chicago, Illinois.
Abron’s Hot Take
Ok, Jussie let’s have a real conversation here. STOP. THE. MADNESS!!! This continued doubling, tripling, and quadrupling down about your “innocence,” is utterly ridiculous at this point. Now, I for one never gave my opinion on the matter when the story initially broke. Even after that disastrous, embarrassing, and cringy interview, he gave with Robin Roberts, I’ve always been more of a “wait and see what information we get first,” type of guy. As more and more details became available and it seemed like Jussie had, in fact, staged the attack himself, I hung my head in shame. Not for me but for him and for what this meant on a bigger scale. Because Jussie is both black and gay, he, as a celebrity and public figure, represents both groups that often face discrimination within society. Now that he’s created this fake story, his deplorable actions will now make it harder for actual victims of hate crimes to be believed. But more than that, his arrogance and narcissism are what is most problematic and sad. His effort to deny the obvious and proclaim that he did not stage this act and his unwillingness to take accountability for his actions further prove that he’s learned nothing from this ordeal and will most likely, never grow from this experience. I find that troubling. It is indicative that while he’s away for the next 5-months, he will not use this time to take corrective action. Moreover, this entire issue says to me, that even after Jussie completes his jail time – after he’s paid his fines and restitution, he will continue the victim narrative, and hold a grudge against society and the justice system for not believing him.
My hope is that he truly does some introspective work on himself, grows up, takes accountability, and pledges to be a better person. But, based on his outburst as he left the courtroom, still insisting that he’s innocent even after a police investigation, trial, and jury decision proved otherwise, I’m not so confident that will be the case.
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