The Negative Impact of Jussie Smollett’s Fake Attack

Diamond Scott, Staff Writer

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In late January, Jussie Smollett, an actor best known for his role as Jamal on the Fox show Empire, was attacked by two men in what Smollett described as a racist and homophobic incident. Public reaction was immediate and in full support for Smollett as people rallied around the popular actor.

Following the incident, Chicago police revealed that prior to the incident, Smollett told authorities that he received a threatening letter to the studio in Chicago where Empire is filmed. According to the police, in the days leading up to the attack, Smollett had posted videos of himself outside Trump Tower in Chicago with captions that were degrading and unsupportive of the president. Shortly after the incident, Smollett appeared on the national television show Good Morning America and was interviewed by Robin Roberts.

The actor, commenting on rumors surrounding the attack on him, went so far as to state, “You do such a disservice when you lie about things like this. I’ve heard that it was a date gone bad, which I so resent that narrative. I’m not gonna go out and get a tuna sandwich and a salad to meet somebody. That’s ridiculous. And it’s offensive”

As it turns out, the “incident” and the “death threats” against Smollett were all a hoax. This came to light after Smollett’s actions came under intense scrutiny. Two brothers were brought in for questioning after being found in closed circuit television footage from the night of Smollett’s alleged attack. A law enforcement source revealed that the two men were brought in for questioning from O’Hare International Airport after landing in Chicago from Nigeria. One of the brothers was Smollett’s personal trainer and the two reportedly worked with Smollett on Empire as extras.

On February 20th, the Chicago Police Department declared that Smollett was classified as a suspect in a criminal investigation for committing a felony. He was charged with sixteen felony charges for allegedly filing a false police report about being the victim of a hate crime.

On February 21st, Smollett turned himself in to Chicago police. Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson announced in a press conference that Smollett faked both the threatening letter and the attack because “he was dissatisfied with his salary” on the show. Johnson also reported that Smollett would have to pay $10,000 cash and surrender his passport.

On March 26th, Chicago prosecutors dropped all charges against the actor, though many Cook County leaders disagreed with the action. While Smollett still has to pay the $10,000 bond, he expressed vindication. According to The New York Times, “Smollett, who maintained his innocence…read a statement outside the courthouse without taking questions. He thanked his family, friends and ‘the incredible people of Chicago and all over the country and the world who have prayed for me…have supported me.’”

However, many sttudents are less forgiving regarding Smollett’s actions and how it will affect others. Shanice Moore, a senior from Watkins Mill High School, says, “MAGA supporters’ ideals and what they tend to stand for hurts other people’s rights and some tend to be racist, but to sit there and lie about that was overall a bad idea. When there is an actual problem and they actually hurt people, no one will believe us.”

Kelly Figueroa, a junior at Seneca Valley High School, states, “I believe the ordeal was an outrageous act to gain publicity and he can never be trusted again in the media.”

Angelica Madariaga, a junior at Clarksburg High School, shares, “I feel that what he did was highly immature because there are better actions he could have done to get fame. Now, people will have trust issues, be stressed, and worried for no reason.”

Brianna Martinez, a junior at Paint Branch, expresses, “This is the most ignorant way to get attention. There can be so many people affected by that situation because they actually have been discriminated against, but if you’re going to lie about it you’re pretty much as bad as a person who discriminates against other people.”

It is clear that people once supportive of the actor are disappointed by his actions. It is, as Moore states, a “The boy who cried wolf situation” that can affect and hurt the people who actually need and deserve justice. Attempting a stunt like this didn’t increase his popularity like he wanted. In fact, it did just the opposite, and it’s really a shame.

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