Trial begins this week for Jussie Smollett, the former ‘Empire’ actor accused of staging a hate crime against himself… The criminal trial of actor Jussie Smollett, who is accused of staging a hate crime against himself, is set to begin Monday after years of delays.
In January 2019, Smollett reported to Chicago police that he had been attacked by two men wearing ski masks while walking home from a Subway sandwich shop around 2 a.m., claiming they shouted racist and homophobic slurs and referenced former President Donald Trump’s slogan “Make America Great Again.” He also said the men placed a noose around his neck.
At the time of the attack, Smollett, who is Black and openly gay, was starring on the TV show “Empire,” which filmed in Chicago.
Shortly after the attack, which was first investigated as a hate crime, police and prosecutors said they believed Smollett himself had staged it. He was accused of making a false report to police and was charged with felony disorderly conduct.
Smollett has denied the accusations.
Then-CPD Superintendent Eddie Johnson said shortly after the alleged attack that Smollett had sent himself a letter with racist and homophobic content and staged the attack when it failed to get attention. He said two brothers, Abimbola and Olabinjo Osundairo, told police Smollett paid them $3,500 to fake the attack because he was dissatisfied with his salary on “Empire.”
Johnson, who is also Black, said Smollett exploited “the pain and anger of racism to promote his career.”
“Why would anyone — especially an African-American man — use the symbolism of a noose to make false accusations?” Johnson said. “How could someone look at the hatred and suffering associated with that symbol and see an opportunity to manipulate that symbol to further his own public profile?”
Smollett has maintained his account of the attack.
In 2019, his lawyer said in a statement the payments Smollett made to the Osundairo brothers were for personal training.
In the upcoming trial, the Osundairo brothers are the key witnesses of the prosecution, the Chicago Tribune reported. Smollett’s lawyers are expected to argue that the brothers framed him.
The trial was delayed due to the charges being dropped and refiled, an investigation into how the case was handled, and the pandemic, the Wall Street Journal reported.
More Great Stories On >> HypeGist