I don’t watch the television program Empire, a drama that follows the head of a music empire whose three sons and ex-wife battle for his throne. One of the “stars” is a fellow named Jussie Smollett who reportedly makes about $125,000 per episode.
Back in early January, Smollett, who is black and openly gay, got letter made out of cut out letters at the Fox studio that contained a homophobic death threat and made apparent reference to President Trump's "Make America Great Again" slogan.
Then in Chicago on January 29th, Smollett said two white men approached him around two in the morning, shouted racial and homophobic slurs, poured an "unknown chemical substance" on him and wrapped a noose around his neck.
Later police arrested two black Nigerian brothers who told detectives Smollett paid them to attack him. As a result Smollett was charged with a felony for allegedly filing a false police report. Police don’t like it when people lie to them. But, apparently it’ not a crime when police lie to the public, but that’s another story.
The Chicago grand jury charged Smollett with 16 felony counts… one for every alleged lie he told police. According to investigators Smollett carried out the staged attack and gave their theory for the reason behind it. First he attempted to gain attention to his desire to get paid more money on Empire by sending the false letter. When that didn’t work he paid the two men $3,500 to attack him. Additionally, in the process he dragged Chicago’s reputation through the mud.
After much media attention and bantering between lawyers, the Cook County State's Attorney recused herself "out of an abundance of caution." Recused, meaning she considered herself unqualified to perform legal duties because of a potential conflict of interest or lack of impartiality. It's not clear to me why there was a conflict of interest or why she would be impartial...maybe she is a fan of the show?! No, wait! Her name is Kim Foxx and is the fact that she is black have anything to do with it? Foxx ran on a platform of criminal justice reform and stated she wanted to focus on “restoring faith
in our criminal justice system” and “bridging the divide between the
community and law enforcement.
Finally charges against Smollett were dropped and the Cook County State's Attorney's Office refused to explain why the 16 counts of felony disorderly conduct were dropped, but Smollett agreed to forfeit his $10,000 bond. A judge also agreed to seal Smollett's court file at the request of his attorneys and the prosecutors had no objection.
Besides everyone looking like an idiot, it makes one wonder how much money changed hands.
UPDATE (3-28-19) Smollett is being investigated by the FBI as to whether he sent himself the hate letter laced with white powder and the dismissal of the criminal charge against him.