As it should be.
So Jussie Smollett, the “Empire” star who sought to up his
profile on the backs of actual victims of racism and homophobia may have
escaped a criminal conviction for his despicable actions, but he’s not totally
in the clear.
Let’s do a quick recap on Smollett’s deception.
The openly gay actor was the number one topic in the media
for a couple of weeks, back in February.
On January 29, as we now know, he hired two Nigerian
brothers to help him stage an attack on himself, as he walked the frozen
streets of Chicago in the early morning hours.
The attack, according to Smollett, was from two white men,
saying things like, “This is MAGA country!”
Of course, there were racist and homophobic remarks, as they
beat him, put a noose around his neck, and poured a substance thought to be gas
or bleach on him.
It makes perfect sense that a pair of Trump supporters be
big enough fans of the show, “Empire” to A) know who Smollett was, and B) know
where to find him on that particular night, so as to have the rope and substance
ready to go.
Ok. Maybe it doesn’t make that much sense, which is why
Smollett’s story began to fall apart so quickly.
The Nigerian brothers, Abimbola “Abel” and Olabinjo “Ola”
Osundairo, knew Smollett through the show, as both have had small roles, at
some point. They were brought in for questioning in the case, but quickly
Through their testimony, as well as video footage and other
evidence obtained, it was determined that Smollett paid the brothers to stage
the attack, originally for earlier in the night, on January 28, but it was
pushed back, due to his flight running late.
The purpose was that age-old hook: Money.
Smollett hoped his dual victimhood, as a black, gay man,
targeted by the trendy villains of the day – MAGA maniacs – would cause such a
rush of sympathy and publicity, that he could parlay that into an increase in
pay with the show.
A mere $60,000 per
episode is practically slave wages, right?
So much outrage, and so much hard work went into
investigating this case, only to have it revealed as the crass, opportunistic
machinations of a greedy, entitled grifter.
Smollett was charged with felony disorderly conduct and 16
counts of lying to the police about a hate crime.
That would have been justice, to let the case move forward.
This, however, happened in Chicago.
Under dubious circumstances, state prosecutors dropped the
charges against the actor last week, causing the Police Superintendent Eddie
Johnson and Mayor Rahm Emanuel to take to the airwaves, issues scathing rebukes
of the decision.
Then Mayor Emanuel got serious.
He announced that Smollett, who still maintains he is innocent,
even though there is ample proof to the contrary, would be handed the bill to
pay for the investigation, to the tune of around $130,000.
That came with an April 4 deadline, and Smollett missed it.
Now, the city of Chicago has moved to plan B and will be suing the conniving actor.
“Mr. Smollett has refused to reimburse the City of Chicago for the cost of police overtime spent investigating his false police report on January 29, 2019, a spokesperson of the Midwestern metropolis said Thursday as it became EOD in Chicago. “The Law Department is now drafting a civil complaint that will be filed in the Circuit Court of Cook County. Once it is filed, the Law Department will send a courtesy copy of the complaint to Mr. Smollett’s L.A. based legal team.”
Under Chicago by-laws and made clear in the letter Smollett was sent on March 28, the city can seek more than $390,000 from the actor, which is three times the original amount plus court and attorney costs.
“Empire” is closing out its fifth season, and Smollett has
already been written out of the last several episodes. It is unclear if he’ll
be included in season six, although he has the support of some of his cast
members and was recently nominated for the Image Award, given out by the NAACP.
That’s pretty much a show of a glaring lack of support for
actual victims of racism or homophobia, when you reward those who diminish the
seriousness of these events for their own, selfish purposes.
For now, however, Smollett, who is sticking by his claim of
innocence, will have to deal with this lawsuit, and if there is any justice at
all, he will be paying long after he signs the final check to the city.