“Empire” actor Jussie Smollett has been charged with one count of felony disorderly conduct for filing a false police report. Smollett claimed that white men wearing Trump’s signature MAGA hats jumped out of a car and screamed “This is MAGA country, n****r” and beat him and put a noose around his neck. Various networks and cable stations like CNN ran with the story as a horrific attack and an example of rising hate crimes during the Trump Administration.
Smollett was widely heralded as a victim who showed bravery in the face of a hate crime. He appeared at one event and described how the first attacked “Punches me right in the face. So, I punched his ass back. I think what people need to hear is just the truth.” The truth however appears equally disturbing.
Police also say that Smollett sent a racist and homophobic to himself and then made them public. Police say that the scratches that Smollett displayed were self-inflicted. The two brothers who allegedly helped Smollett set up the hoax hate crime told police that Smollett was upset that the letter did not generate more attention and outrage than it did.
That was not a problem when he showed up with the noose around his neck and an account of MAGA wearing racists roaming the streets of Chicago.
Chicago police say that the entire scheme was meant to increase Smollett’s salary with the studio by making him a cause célèbre.
The Chicago Police Commissioner lashed out at the media and politicians for fueling the outcry over the alleged attack before any facts other than his account were known. As we discussed, various politicians immediately denounced the attack and cited the Trump Administration for creating an environment of heightened racial animus. Speaker Nancy Pelosi has deleted her tweet calling it a “racist homophobic attack” and calling for action. Sen. Cory Booker (D., N.J.) is now “withholding judgment” after previously calling it an “attempted modern-day lynching.” Sen. Kamala Harris previously tweeted “This was an attempted modern day lynching. No one should have to fear for their life because of their sexuality or color of their skin. We must confront this hate.” When confronted with the new evidence, Harris gave the answer that should have been the first response: “I think that once the investigation is concluded, then we should all comment, but I’m not going to comment until I know the outcome of that investigation.” Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez actually objected to those not treating the attack as an established fact. She tweeted that the attack was not “possibly” a racist and homophobic attack, but that “it was a racist and homophobic attack.”
Media reports indicate that the rope used for the noose has been traced to a nearby lumber store (where I used to go with my father for material) in Chicago. They supposedly were identified as purchasing the rope shortly before the attack.
A grand jury returned the indictment yesterday and Smollett is now due in court in Chicago at 1:30 p.m. Thursday.
One of the provisions under Section 720 is:
(6) Calls the number “911” for the purpose of making or transmitting a false alarm or complaint and reporting information when, at the time the call or transmission is made, the person knows there is no reasonable ground for making the call or transmission and further knows that the call or transmission could result in the emergency response of any public safety agency;
That provision is generally charged as a Class 4 felony with 1-3 years of potential prison. However probation is allowed for up to 30 months.