The Almanian covered a story last month regarding the alleged hate crime that occurred against the Empire actor, Jussie Smollett. Since then, a change in the story has been brought to the attention of the media.
Smollett told the police he was attacked by two white assailants wearing ski masks in Chicago, who beat him with their fists, feet and teeth, doused him in chemicals and tied a noose around his neck. He claimed these acts were an alleged hate crime against him; Smollett is not only an African American actor on a show with a cast of predominantly African American actors, but he is also a homosexual man.
Smollett also reportedly received a threatening letter prior to the supposed attack, where a stick figure was drawn and the letter read, “Smollett, Jussie. You will die.” The word “MAGA” was also written on it, as Smollett is quite vocal about being against the Trump Administration.
However, Chicago police say that there was no reasonable ground for believing that [the hate crime] had been committed against Smollett.
Two African American brothers even came forward and claimed that Smollett paid them to pretend to carry out these acts. These men worked as extras on the show, Empire, and were seen at a store buying ski masks and other supplies before the incident allegedly happened. The brothers also reportedly asked if the store carried MAGA hats.
With this new break in the case, Smollett is pleading not guilty of 16 felony counts of false reporting: 8 for the alleged false reports he gave to the police the night of the incident, and 8 for “lies” he later told the detective in the case.
Because The Almanian broke this story when it originally was in the media, the paper decided to touch base with those that were interviewed initially, and see if their outlook on the case has changed.
“I’ve been reading up on [the changes in the case] trying to find relatively unbiased information which is unsurprisingly pretty difficult with something this heated,” said Blake Jonassen (‘22).
Jonassen said he has been having a difficult time finding information on the case that does not swing one way or the other.
“I think it’s difficult to find a believable side to the story because most media sites these days all have a political side they believe over another or tend to be more critical than others,” said Jonassen.
Some broadcasting companies are known for wording their information to appeal specifically to the far left or the far right.
“[Because of this,] a lot of information is reported in different manners which causes some information to be misconstrued or ignored,” said Jonassen.
Many are not dismantling Smollett’s claims until anything is proven by more than heresay or he says so himself.
“It’s unsettling when there are so many other people being believed from the beginning,” said David Parnell (‘21).
Smollett’s case has been questioned since it first broke, and many have been quick to claim he made up the hoax in order to be paid the amount of money he may believe he deserves.
“The amount of energy put into disproving victims is kind of unsettling,” said Parnell.
“I am not going to be fully against Smollett until all of the information is presented,” said Jonassen, agreeing with Parnell’s claim.
The case is still being investigated, and Smollett is back in the courtrooms on April 17.
Cases like this are thought to be why hate crimes are only taken with a grain of salt, no matter how serious.
“I hope that his egregious act–if proven–doesn’t translate to people that they should not come out and seek repercussions for assaulters and abusers, because that act is disgusting,” said Parnell.