The criminal trial of former actor Jussie Smollett on charges that he staged a hate crime against himself is set to begin in Monday, after three years of delays into how the Chicago District Attorney handled the case.
He has been charged with six counts of disorderly conduct for making false reports to the police.
Smollett claimed that he was attacked on January 29, 2019 around 2 a.m. by two white men who shouted racist and homophobic slurs, doused him in a bleach-like liquid, hung a rope around his neck, and yelled "This is MAGA country," before he was able to beat them off. He was seen on security footage entering his upscale apartment with an intact Subway sandwich and a noose around his neck (which he was still wearing when police arrived).
While there was no footage of the "attack" despite Chicago's thousands of surveillance cameras, two "persons of interest" were captured on camera who turned out to be Nigerian-born brothers Abimbola “Abel” and Olabinjo “Ola” Osundairo, one of whom was Jussie's personal trainer and was an extra on Empire.
After Chicago police arrested the brothers as "potential suspects," they were later released without charges - and investigators say their interview "shifted the trajectory of the investigation."
Dave Chappelle provides a recap of what went down:
At the time, then-Senator Kamala Harris called it a "modern day lynching" (just one month after she coincidentally supported an anti-lynching bill):
.@JussieSmollett is one of the kindest, most gentle human beings I know. I’m praying for his quick recovery.— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) January 29, 2019
This was an attempted modern day lynching. No one should have to fear for their life because of their sexuality or color of their skin. We must confront this hate.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez called it a "racist and homophobic attack."
There is no such thing as “racially charged.”— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) January 30, 2019
This attack was not “possibly” homophobic. It was a racist and homophobic attack.
If you don’t like what is happening to our country, then work to change it. It is no one’s job to water down or sugar-coat the rise of hate crimes. https://t.co/QAi0IYtSeR
As the Wall Street Journal notes, the trial has been delayed several times due to events "including having the charges dropped and refiled and an investigation into how Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx handled the investigation. The Covid-19 pandemic added to the delays. A court official said the trial will begin with jury selection and could be completed within days."