The Star Who Cried Hate Crime


E. Jason Wambsgans

Aliya Lewis, Opinion Writer

In 2017, a total of 7,175 hate crime incidents were reported. A staggering 1,130 of those reported offences were based on sexual orientation bias. These numbers only include the incidents that were reported to law enforcement.

On January 29 of this year, Jussie Smollett, an American actor and singer and one of the stars of Fox network’s award winning tv show Empire, was reportedly attacked by two men yelling racial and homophobic slurs, who poured an unknown substance on him and put a noose around his neck before fleeing the scene. The news of this incident sent America into a frenzy of anger and astonishment.

Jussie Smollett publicly came out as gay in 2015, and like any black man in today’s society, he received a large amount of backlash for this confession. Along with the backlash, he received an overwhelming amount of love and support from his fans. He also received a large amount of respect from people for the honesty and bravery he had to exert in order to confess his truth.

The confession of his sexual orientation ultimately played a part in his role as Jamal Lyon on the hit show Empire, where the character he plays is the second eldest out of the three Lyon children with a prosperous music career and multiple romantic partners throughout the course of the shows’ five seasons.

Unfortunately for Smollett, the rise in fame wasn’t enough. He wanted further financial compensation for the amazing role he played on Empire and for being the overall asset he is to the Fox Network team, so he devised a plan to do so.

Phase one of his incredible plan was put into action in early February of 2019 when Smollett sent a fake piece of hate mail to the network directly targeting himself in order to gain the attention of the network and the public in general. The fake hate letter to the network contained racist, homophobic, and political language used in a threatening manner toward Jussie Smollett. The letter also contained a white powdery substance that was later identified as aspirin. The goal of the letter was to gain traction in the media, because as they say, “all publicity is good publicity”.

Phase two of this flawless plan was to stage a fake phone call to the star himself. Smollett told police that three days before the attack he received an unidentified phone call from an unknown man who mumbled a homophobic slur then hung up. This phone call was said to have taken place near a surveillance camera that he pointed out to police.

The third and final phase of his remarkable plan was the actual attack that took place on an early Tuesday morning in January of this year. According to Smollett he had gone out to buy food late at night in downtown Chicago when two white men hurled racial and homophobic insults at him. Smollett also claimed the men had told him, “this is Maga country,” apparently referring to President Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan which President Trump had responded to in one of his infamous tweets. The men had also allegedly punched Smollett, and poured a chemical substance over him and put a rope around his neck. The police now say that there were some minor scrapes on his face that were self-inflicted but other than that he sustained no major injuries.

Sadly for Mr. Smollett his plan was foiled by minor factors that he didn’t take into account, such as the two brothers he hired to “attack” him would be seen on camera buying things like ski masks prior to the attack, or the fact that his money could buy their time but not their loyalty. After being seen on camera after the attack, both of the brothers that Jussie Smollett paid came clean to the police and divulged his plan to avoid criminal charges.

Superintendent of the Chicago Police Department, Eddie T. Johnson’s comment of the entire situation was, “I’m left hanging my head and asking why. Why would anyone, especially an African-American man, use the symbolism of a noose to make false accusations? 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?”

Due to the holes in Smollett’s plan and the amazing investigative work by the Chicago Police Department, the truth about the entire chain of events was brought to light. On February 20, 2019 Jussie Smollett was charged with disorderly conduct/filing a false police report.

Since Jussie Smollett made a mockery of the hate crime epidemic that is currently taking place, he unconsciously put people who are genuinely suffering with this problem in their life currently in an uncomfortable situation. Now for anyone that has suffered with a hate crime in their life they have a fear of being seen as a liar by people or law enforcement if they make the choice to come forward in search of justice. Due to his misguided and incredibly selfish choices so many people will be inadvertently silenced in such an insanely life changing time of need.