During former “Empire” star Jussie Smollett’s testimony in his own defense, Black Lives Matter (BLM) released a statement supporting the actor, who stands accused of faking a hate crime against himself.
“In our commitment to abolition, we can never believe police, especially the Chicago Police Department (CPD) over Jussie Smollett, a Black man who has been courageously present, visible, and vocal in the struggle for Black freedom. While policing at-large is an irredeemable institution, CPD is notorious for its long and deep history of corruption, racism, and brutality,” BLM said.
The group called the trial a “white supremacist charade,” and said that in an abolitionist society “this trial would not be taking place, and our communities would not have to fight and suffer to prove our worth.”
The statement mentions nothing about the merits of the case.
Smollett maintains that he did not stage the attack against himself, despite testimony from Nigerian brothers Abel and Ola Osundairo, who said Smollett paid them $3500 to carry out the attack.
Prosecutors say Smollett’s motive was anger, and that he felt like “Empire” producers were not taking an angry letter that he received seriously enough.
Meanwhile, Smollett contends that one of the Osundairo brothers reached out to a Smollett representative, asking him to pay each brother one million dollars in order to avoid testifying against Smollett.
The actor, who is black and gay, claimed that he was attacked in the streets of Chicago in the early morning of January 29, 2019. He claimed that the attackers yelled racist and homophobic slurs at him, put a noose around his neck, and poured a chemical substance on him. Smollett also said that one of the attackers yelled “this is MAGA country.”
Smollett’s testimony has been described as an “unparalleled disaster.”
During his two days on the stand, he admitted to doing drugs and visiting bathhouses with Bola Osundairo. He also engaged in a tiff with prosecutor Dan Webb, who used the N-word in his line of questioning.
Closing arguments in the trial were held Wednesday. A verdict is expected soon.
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