The past week brought developments in the Jussie Smollett saga that were a bit unusual. We’ve been receiving regular updates from the Chicago Police Department as the investigation has progressed, but as Ed Morrissey pointed out on Thursday, the “update” from the city’s Superintendent of Police, Eddie Johnson, was of a far more personal nature and breaks with traditional law enforcement communications. Rather than simply laying out the latest facts and findings, Johnson issued a very personal announcement that seemed to show that he’s wrapped the case up and been personally affected by it. As an African-American and lifelong resident of the Windy City, he described himself at various points as “offended” and “angry” over Smollett’s actions. He also wasn’t messing around with using terms like “alleged” in an ongoing investigation. He was flatly stating that this was a hoax. (NBC News)
This announcement today recognizes that “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett took advantage of the pain and anger of racism to promote his career.
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? How can an individual who’s been embraced by the city of Chicago turn around and slap everyone in this city in the face by making these false claims?
Bogus police reports cause real harm. They do harm to every legitimate victim who is in need of support by police and investigators, as well as the citizens of this city.
Since Jussie Smollett is still sticking to his story, he remains innocent until proven guilty. (In fact, he was back on the set last week, “swearing to God” to his castmates that he didn’t do it.) But that’s not how the cops are treating this one, even at the highest ranks. Rather than talking about a “suspect” in the alleged filing of a false police report, Eddie Johnson is speaking of the incident as something he’s satisfied is a settled matter.
That’s not how these things typically play out. From what we’ve been told thus far, there’s still a “he said/they said” aspect to the charges. The two Nigerian men who were originally arrested are saying it was orchestrated by Smollett while the actor maintains they actually attacked him. For the Superintendent to come out with such a definitive statement, he must have some seriously convincing evidence ready for the prosecutors to present.
Meanwhile, this case continues to dog both Hollywood and Washington. Kamala Harris still has no comment, but she’s willing to hang out with another famous hate crime hoaxer. This weekend she was dodging reporters’ questions about the Smollett case while huddling with Al Sharpton. (I previously wrote about the laughable nature of having Sharpton talking about Jussie Smollett.)
Does Senator Harris have anyone advising her these days? The timing of this particular meeting couldn’t be more awkward. Just as reporters were chasing her down for a comment on Jussie-Gate, she’s taking a meeting with the guy who helped perpetrate the Tawana Brawley hoax? It seems as if that particular item on her calendar could have been handled with a conference call, but I suppose Sharpton wants all of the candidates to come to bow and scrape to him in person if they want his support. How a hustler like Al Sharpton retains this amount of influence in the Democratic Party is every bit as much of a mystery as what Jessie Smollett was thinking when he allegedly cooked up this plan.