“Empire” actor Jussie Smollett, who Chicago police now believe faked his alleged hate crime last month and filed a report to the effect, remained defiant on Friday after being charged with a felony in connection with his false claim.
After being released on $100,000 bail and having returned to the set of Empire, Smollett continued to insist that he’s innocent. What’s more, he is now claiming he’s the victim of a racist, homophobic, police-connected plot against him — video evidence and confessions of co-conspirators be damned.
“Mr. Smollet is a young man of impeccable character and integrity who fiercely and solemnly maintains his innocence and feels betrayed by a system that apparently wants to skip due process and proceed directly to sentencing,” said a statement released on his behalf Thursday, according to entertainment website Deadline.
“Today we witnessed an organized law enforcement spectacle that has no place in the American legal system. The presumption of innocence, a bedrock in the search for justice, was trampled upon at the expense of Mr. Smollett and notably, on the eve of a Mayoral election,” the hyperbole-laced statement continued.
The statement is so laced with falsehoods, irresponsible innuendo, and baseless claims it’s hard to take it seriously. But unfortunately, far too many Americans will, which makes debunking it essential.
First and foremost, just how “impeccable” is Smollett’s character? He’s been charged with mailing a false “threat letter” to himself and faking a hate crime. Granted, he’s not been convicted yet, but do people with “impeccable” character do such things?
How, exactly, has “the system” betrayed Smollett? In a country where the rule of law is whatever the current power structure says it is, he very well could have been scooped up off the street, thrown into a police van, and never heard from again. But he wasn’t. Police, working off of evidence and clues, did an investigation first to come to their conclusions that he allegedly faked this hate crime. That’s “the system” working; not liking the results of the system (a finding of probable cause to arrest) is no reason to proclaim it dysfunctional. (Related: ‘Mainstream’ media’s perpetuation of hate hoaxers like Jussie Smollett will lead to violence, war.)
What’s also clearly evident is that police followed “due process” and are continuing to follow it. Chicago PD didn’t go to Smollett and ask him to report a hate crime; Smollett came to police and reported an alleged hate crime. Due process is police investigating those allegations and coming to conclusions based on the evidence. And the evidence in this case, thus far, indicates that Smollett staged his attack.
As for sentencing, Smollett is not in jail, he’s out on $100,000 bond — which, by the way, is part of the same “system” he claims isn’t working. There’s been no trial yet. There’s been no verdict. There’s been no sentencing. Making this claim is just nonsensical.
The principle of “presumption of innocence” doesn’t mean police should look the other way when they’ve discovered evidence of a potential crime. Again, there’s been no trial and no conviction; for now, consider Smollett’s innocence is presumed.
Justice also isn’t having the police look the other way in the face of a potential crime. Justice is police following all available clues and leads until they are convinced of one of two things: A crime was committed or it wasn’t. Justice is ensuring the guilty are punished and the innocent set free, but at this point, the still-functioning “system” requires a speedy trial of his peers (Sixth Amendment), which he’ll get unless he pleads out his felony charges.
By all accounts, proper legal processes are being followed. Yet if Smollett is eventually convicted of filing a false hate crime report, far too many people will never accept that he did anything wrong. Instead, they’ll believe that it’s just another case where a black man was ‘victimized’ by an ‘unjust, racist’ system.
Read more about how hate crime hoaxes are harming race relations in America at RaceRelations.news.