Racial justice, LGBTQ groups urge prosecutor to drop charges against Jussie Smollett
A petition with 15,000 signatures supports dismissing the case against the former 'Empire' star
In a joint letter, a coalition of racial justice and LGBTQ groups urge special prosecutor Daniel Webb to drop the current charges against Jussie Smollett.
It’s been over two years since Smollett, who is openly gay, reported that he was the victim of a hate crime in Chicago. After receiving an outpouring of public support, the Chicago Police Department eventually accused Smollett of not only lying about the attack but orchestrating it.
As theGrio’s Keydra Manns previously reported, Smollett was “hit with 16 counts of disorderly conduct and charged with filing a fake police report,” before all of the charges against the actor were eventually dropped.
Then, in early 2020, Smollett was suddenly back in the spotlight when he was charged with six counts of felony disorderly conduct. Now, a coalition of racial justice and LGBTQ groups have come together to urge Webb to drop the charges against Smollett.
Led by the National Black Justice Coalition, the letter includes Black Gifted and Whole, National Center for Lesbian Rights, Community Renewal Society, Black AIDS Institute, National LGBTQ Task Force, and the Mobilizing Our Brother’s Initiative, urging the prosecutor to “encourage the city of Chicago to focus on its pervasive problems.”
The letter reads, “We, the undersigned, write to urge you as the special prosecutor to drop the charges against Mr. Jussie Smollett. While we do not condone the filing of any false claim, particularly of a hate crime, Mr. Smollett’s ongoing prosecution raises serious concerns in the civil rights community.”
The letter then details the anti-Black and anti-queer bias that Smollett’s case seems to fall under, saying, “Mr. Smollett’s case fits an unfortunate pattern of anti-Black, anti-queer bias, in which Black queer people are disproportionate targets of unrelenting discrimination, policing, and state-sanctioned violence. This pattern is clear when juxtaposed against the treatment of white people accused of similar crimes.”
The letter compares Smollett’s case to other high-profile incidents of the same nature perpetrated by white people, citing Amy Cooper, the white woman who called 911 on birdwatcher Christian Cooper in Central Park, as an example. Cooper was not prosecuted for her actions.
The letter also details the impact the lingering case has had on Smollett and how his personal information was revealed in the process.
“The damage done to Mr. Smollett is not just reputational. Over the past two years, he has suffered considerable hardship, with the loss of contracts, endorsements, and other professional opportunities; having to vacate his home…
“When the Chicago Police Department released documents related to Mr. Smollett’s case to the public, his private information, including his phone number and home address, became widely available. The personal information of others involved in the case, however, was redacted. Mr. Smollett was forced to immediately vacate his apartment to maintain his safety.”
The letter concludes by suggesting the city of Chicago could be spending their efforts and using their resources on more pressing and important matters.
“Mr. Smollett’s March 5th trial follows the murder of at least 5 transgender Chicagoans. Most of these crimes remain unsolved. As hate crimes against the transgender community are still on the rise, it is our firm belief that the city should reallocate resources to expeditiously investigate and solve them, rather than prosecuting Jussie Smollett.”
The official petition for Smollett’s charges to be dropped has already gained nearly 1,500 signatures. Head over to the petition here.
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