Author’s Note: This past winter, I have focused three “Friday Footnote” posts here on the drama surrounding noted and talented gay actor, Justin “Jussie” Smollett, and his legal encounters with the Chicago, Illinois, USA police department. Jussie, for the past five years, has starred in the TV series. “Empire,” which was filmed in Chicago. Below are the latest updates on all those “Friday Footnote” postings.
To familiarize yourself with the information, please click the titles below to review the Friday Footnote posts:
Initial posting: Friday Footnote: Hate and Shame
Second posting: Friday Footnote: Jussie Smollet
Third posting: Friday Footnote: Jussie Smollett, Part 2
The police and political incident that has focused on Jussie Smollett appears to be on the wane as of the moment. Prosecutors on Tuesday afternoon, March 26, 2019, dropped all charges against Jussie Smollett, astonishing everyone, including the accused. Smollett made no official comment himself but one of his attorneys called the move vindication. Chicago Mayor, Rahm Emanuel angrily labelled the action as a “whitewash” of all the allegations that Smollett had repeatedly lied about being the target of both a racist and homophobic assault.
Emmanuel blasted the decision by the city’s attorney’s office and expressed his belief in the initial police investigation that concluded that Smollet had engaged in a hoax. The mayor went on to say that Jussie had “dragged the city’s reputation through the mud” in an attempt to advance his television career. At one point in his press conference, the mayor asked the media present, “Is there no decency in this man?”
The prosecutors stated that the main reason they decided to drop the charges against Jussie Smollett was because they needed to focus their resources on the city’s overwhelming gun violence. They did add that the accused (Smollett) agreed to forfeit the entirety of his $10,000 bail.
Tandra Simonton, a spokeswoman for the prosecutorial office, remarked that the dismissal of the charges came “after reviewing all of the facts and circumstances of the case.” She added that it was “a just disposition and appropriate resolution.”
Patricia Brown Holmes, an attorney for Jussie Smollett, remarked that his record had “been wiped clean” of the 16 felony charges filed after he had allegedly made false reports that he was assaulted by two men for being both African-American and gay. Smollett has consistently insisted that he has been truthful and honest on every single level since the day of the incident.
His attorney additionally offered that her client, Jussie Smollett, was “attacked by two men he was unable to identify” and that he “was a victim who was vilified and made to appear as a perpetrator.” The police authoritities had claimed that Smollett, who is a black gay man, knew the men who he claimed attacked him and paid them to pretend to attack him.
Chicago Police Department Superintendent, Eddie Johnson, released a statement to the media that he continues to support his department’s investigation and that the city “is still owed an apology.”
Chicago’s top prosecutor, Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, had recused herself from the investigation. The reason she gave for removing herself was regarding conversations that she had with a Smollett family member. First Assistant State’s Attorney Joseph Magats said that he “stands behind the investigation and the facts.” He added that the dismissal of all charges was not an exoneration.
In dropped prosecution cases, the prosecutor’s generally insist that the defendant at least a measure of responsibility towards the incident. Jussie Smolltt and his attorneys have not conceded to anything about his original police report in January, 2019, immediately following his attack.
On Thursday, March 28, 2019, Chicago’s legal department served a letter to Jussie and his attorney’s that the city is owed $130,000 from them. The amount is based on the overtime worked by the police officers and detectives who investigated Smollett’s police report of being assaulted on January 29, 2018. The letter stated that the money paid to staff could have been used for other investigations.
Patricia Brown Holmes declined to comment of the letter.
At this time, it is not known whether Jussie Smollett will return to his role as the gay character, Jamal Lyons, on the TV show Empire. When he was charged with 16 felony accounts, his character was not filmed in the last two episodes of the current season.
Jussie Smollett poses nude in the above images. The right one is a modest pose for a gay magazine and the left one is a nude image posted on his social media account.
My extensive coverage of the Jussie Smollett incidents is primarily based on my admiration of him as an actor and singer. I have religiously followed his television show, Empire, since it first appeared five years ago. I was impressed with his role of Jamal Lyons and especially when he came out of the closet as an openly gay actor on the Ellen Degeneres TV show that same year. To have a proud gay man actively portray a proud gay character in a mainstream TV series is quite an accomplishment.
I’ve been an active member of the Empire TV series audience since it first aired; one of the main reasons for my loyalty was the fact that Jussie Smollett appeared in the show. If he isn’t allowed to return to the screen, then I’m not certain that I can continue watching the broadcast. I feel that his premature dismissal from the cast was an outright insult to his years of dedicated service. He was only accused of the felonies. He was never convicted nor even judged by a jury of his peers.
I have admired his advocacy for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer individuals (GLBTQ) and for our equality. He also encourages both Black and racially mixed youth to do their best in today’s world. This positive mentoring is sorely needed for all of our youth.
I’m glad that he no longer has any criminal charges before him. I truly hope that he can return to his previous roles as an actor, singer and minority rights advocate. Our world can desperately use more men like Justin “Jussie” Smollett!