Jussie Smollett, actor on the show Empire, turned himself in to the Chicago Police Department on Feb. 21 following the circulation of a rumor about him staging a hate crime against himself. On January 29, Smollett claimed that two men beat him up, poured an unknown substance on him and put a rope around his neck. After he turned himself in, Smollett was charged with felony disorderly conduct and allegations of filing a false police report. If convicted, he may face up to three years in prison.
Students at the Weber School have different views on the situation. Some think he deserves prison time while others do not. Senior Sloane Warner stated, “Yes, I do think he deserves prison time because I think he should be punished for his attempt to circumvent the law. If he had an issue with his work and his beliefs, then he should have just voiced his opinion instead of taking the issue into his own hands.”
Also commenting on the serious matter, junior Caroline Schneider said, “I think he deserves to be properly punished for his crime. I’m not sure whether or not this incident is a misdemeanor or a felony, but I’m sure the courts will figure it out. Faking a hate crime and utilizing his stardom for the wrong message is a serious matter, but I worry that the hate going his way will infiltrate his sentencing. I just hope that the police department and courts of Chicago make their decision based on the facts and not how he misused his platform, as that is not a crime.”
The revelation that the hate crime was fake could also have a negative effect on African American and LGBTQ communities all over the country. Junior Caroline Goldman explained, “I think it delegitimizes their fight and puts them ten steps back. When people fake a hate crime it completely undermines the reality that many POC and LGBTQ people face everyday, this even affects us as Jews as being a minority with a continuous amount of hate crimes towards our religion, as well.” Schneider continued, “It negatively effects African Americans and LGBTQ communities because it diminishes the severity of hate crimes that for sure happen all over the country. Having a minority man fake this crime makes other, more legitimate crimes seem illegitimate, and that could put many other Americans in danger. It also gives racists and bigots a way to attack on the already discriminated communities.” People all over the nation were in shock when they heard the hate crime was a hoax.
Jussie Smollett exploited his minority status as he is part of the African American, LGBTQ and Jewish communities. Junior Frankie Grossman, proclaimed, “Yes, of course he took advantage of his minority status. He knew that it was believable because of his identities and he took advantage of that.” Agreeing with the statement, Schneider said, “He took advantage of his minorities in some ways: the men he had stage the attack were also African-American, so the assumption is that the crime was more an attack toward his LGBTQ orientation. However, I believe he took advantage of his platform. Some reports claim this was all an effort to raise his salary, which is sickening.”
Many of his fans are very disappointed in the actor and his bond was recently set for $100,000. The date of his trial in court is March 14 in Chicago.