Remember Jussie Smollett, the American actor/singer who claimed he’d been attacked by a couple of rednecks in downtown Chicago in the early hours one morning, only for it to emerge that he’d paid a couple of Nigerian lads to fill him in? He was staring down the barrel of serious criminal charges but whaddya know, they’ve been dropped.
Readers may recall that Smollett’s original claim had the entire Democratic presidential field rushing to his aid, and it seems his connections have come through once more. However, the Chicago PD and mayor are less than impressed:
In a striking news conference [which can be seen here – ed], the mayor and the police superintendent, Eddie Johnson, sharply criticized the State’s Attorney’s Office and the actor himself.
Mr. Emanuel said that Mr. Smollett’s celebrity had played a role in the decision, calling it “a whitewash of justice.”
“You cannot have, because of a person’s position, one set of rules apply to them and one set of rules apply to everybody else,” Mr. Emanuel said.
“Our officers did hard work, day in and day out, countless hours, working to unwind what actually happened that night,” he added. “The city saw its reputation dragged through the mud.”
Mr. Johnson said, “I think this city is still owed an apology.”
“At the end of the day,” he added, “it’s Mr. Smollett who committed this hoax.”
Nor are we finding much remorse from Smollett:
Exoneration or no, for Mr. Smollett, who maintained his innocence, the outcome could hardly have been better. After the hearing, he 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, who have supported me.”
That’s right, he still maintains he’s innocent. And I wasn’t very surprised by this:
[T]he state’s attorney’s office had already drawn scrutiny for its handling of the case. The Chicago Tribune reported that after police department sources began leaking their doubts about Mr. Smollett to local reporters, Tina Tchen, a former chief of staff to Michelle Obama, had emailed Kimberly Foxx, the top prosecutor, saying the actor’s family had “concerns about the investigation.”
Firstly, why did Michelle Obama have a chief of staff? Secondly, far from embodying “class and grace” as his worshippers claim, the more I read about the Obamas the more they look like low-grade grifters, neck-deep in the sort of corruption that infests Chicago. If I were to be even more cruel I’d point out that Americans elected a half-African for a president who displayed African-style governance – including the prominent, high-spending wife and an inability to retire gracefully and silently.
Now on the one hand this is nothing new. The wealthy and connected were always subject to different laws from the rest of us – look at Edward Kennedy, for example. But on the other hand, now they’re not even pretending. They’re corrupt, and they don’t care who knows it. Also, I’m sure a lot of young black men will be contrasting Smullett’s fate under what passes for a justice system with their own were they to face similar charges. The American justice system is stacked against black men, and the sheer scale of gross injustices meted out against them should be a matter of priority for any governing party. Kim Kardashian, for all her faults, has done an admirable job in pushing Trump for prison reform, a bill which the president passed.
Which is ironic, don’t you think? The supposedly racist president Trump has signed a bill aimed at putting fewer black men in prison for non-violent crimes. What did Obama do to redress the balance in his eight years in charge? And now his wife’s mates are intervening in the justice system to ensure a wealthy celebrity gets sprung without charge despite overwhelming evidence that he’s guilty. It’s not surprising black Americans became so disappointed with Obama, and this latest incident will hardly have helped. While it’s probably too much to expect them to vote Republican, we can at least hope some will start to see that Democrats are not their friends either. What’s going to be really interesting is whether Kamala Harris can bring out the black vote. She’s on record as going all-in for Smullett, and her black credentials are sketchy to begin with. If she can’t, Trump’s a shoo-in for 2020.