Actor Jussie Smollett allegedly staged a violent hate crime in which he was the victim of a brutal assault at the hands of two masked assailants who attributed their attack to “MAGA country,” on Jan. 29.
Inconsistencies in the investigation led to rising suspicions as Chicago police could not corroborate Smollett’s story through eyewitness testimony or surveillance footage from where the alleged crime took place.
On Feb. 14, Smollett appeared on “Good Morning America” to maintain his victimhood and said, “You do such a disservice when you lie about things like this.”
As it turns out, Smollett’s claims were likely hollow as he allegedly paid two men $3,500 help him stage an attack in which he claimed they wrapped a rope around his neck and poured a chemical similar to bleach on him, while also shouting racist and homophobic slurs, according to Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson.
Smollett was arrested Thursday morning after turning himself into the Chicago Police Department. He is being charged with felony disorderly conduct for filing a false report and faces up to three years in prison.
Many claim Smollett’s disgraceful actions have undermined actual hate crimes and will negatively affect future victims, and I’m not here to argue those people are wrong.
However, I believe people should acknowledge that Smollett’s case teaches us hate crimes must not be met firmly with conviction, nor skepticism – but they must be met with diligence.
According to the Washington Post, “Johnson lamented the many resources Chicago police used on an investigation that lasted weeks,” as detectives interviewed over 100 individuals and used both public and private cameras to construct a timeline of the alleged assault.
Police resources were exhausted in order to reveal the truth.
Those resources could have definitely been utilized in legitimate crimes, but regardless of the legitimacy of Smollet’s assault, the diligence of the responding officers combats Smollet’s disservice by lying.
Though Johnson and many others are ashamed those resources could have been used elsewhere, I applaud the Chicago Police Department’s response to this alleged crime as it demonstrates hate crimes must be thoroughly investigated in order to uncover the truth – even if the allegation is revealed to be unfounded or fabricated.
By selfishly reporting a false hate crime in hopes of enhancing his acting career, Smollett certainly did a disservice to the black community, LGBT+ community, and hate crime victims past and present – but it’s this very disservice that teaches us all reported crimes must be met with complete and utter diligence.