Justice for Jussie: Celebrities Abuse Justice System Again

Joshua Perry, Co-Editor-in-Chief

When Jussie Smollett, star of Fox’s hit drama “Empire,” was all over the news in January as the victim of a despicable hate crime, millions across America shook their heads, ashamed that something like that could still happen in 2019 and sympathetic towards Smollett, whose position we could hardly imagine. I was one of them.

Three months later, we still can’t imagine the position he’s in. And we’re still shaking our heads. But for a very different reason.

Smollett has been embroiled in controversy ever since evidence came out alleging that he had hired his “assailants” and staged the hate crime in order to boost his image. He transformed in the public eye from a victim into a criminal.

However, after Smollett had turned himself in, been charged with 16 counts of disorderly conduct and found himself in the hands of the court, the narrative took another turn. The prosecutors in the case, who claimed that the evidence against Smollett was still substantial, decided to drop the charges against him in exchange for bail money and community service. Smollett, still proclaiming his innocence, walked free.

Glad to know that our justice system is still sound.

The issue here isn’t that Smollett somehow vindicated himself, obviously—the evidence that’s been brought to light so far puts that out of the question. It’s that he never even made it to trial. If there were even the slightest possibility that Smollett had wasted police time in a city as violent as Chicago, the prosecutors should have held onto him until the very end.

If the case were solid, like the State’s Attorney’s office has said, then something else must have prompted this incredible reversal. Controversy around figures like Kim Foxx, the State’s Attorney who recused herself out of a conflict of interest, point to some suspicious undercurrents beneath this disaster. There has to be further investigation.

The fact that a celebrity deceived an entire country, dominated the news cycle for weeks, was indicted by a grand jury and then got away with it is a reprehensible miscarriage of justice. Smollett took advantage of America’s sympathy to further his career, breaking the trust of millions, and what did he get? A slap on the wrist.

If Jussie Smollett were a nobody who faked an assault on himself to get attention, what would have happened? First of all, everyone in America wouldn’t know about it. Second of all, he wouldn’t have been allowed to avoid a fair trial. But he isn’t a nobody. He’s a celebrity from an affluent background with name recognition and important connections, so naturally he’s allowed to act with impunity.

However, the media buzz that Smollett stirred up won’t be going away anytime soon, and the FBI is even looking into the dropped charges, so there’s still a chance to hold whoever’s responsible for this mess accountable. We can do better than this.