Jussie Smollett’s suspected assailants willfully committed a hate crime

In Opinion

When the boy cried wolf for the final time, no one believed him.

Jussie Smollett, an actor, stood up to represent multiple communities when he cried out “wolf!”

On Jan. 29, it was reported that Smollett was involved in an attack where he claimed that his attackers wore “MAGA” hats and shouted bigoted slurs at him. During the police investigation of the attack, authorities uncovered evidence that suggested it was staged.  

In lieu of the evidence of the alleged attack, Smollett’s cry for help may be the last that is taken seriously by the public when it comes from someone in the LGBTQ or black communities.

However, this can’t be the case. Violence against any community must be prosecuted and the gravity of hate crimes cannot be forgotten. If video evidence of the alleged attack arises, the people who committed those violent acts need to be put on trial for a hate crime, just as Smollett is being put on trial for his felony offenses.  

The ongoing investigation of the Jussie Smollett case has caught the gaze of the nation. At first, this was treated as a genuine threat to the LGBTQ and the black communities with sympathy pouring in from the public. After a series of events and uncovered evidence that led police to believe the act was staged, the opinion of the general public shifted.

Now, Democratic leaders are backtracking on statements that suggested the alleged attack was a “modern-day lynching.” Trump supporters seem to have been exploited as a symbolic trope in the narrative that Smollett was attacked by men wearing “MAGA” hats. All the while, the LGBTQ and black communities struggle to convince the public that homophobia and racism are still alive and well.

Jussie Smollett was charged with filing a false police report.  He paid two people $3,500 prior to the event, and now the media is reporting that his alleged attack was a fake hate crime.

This is the point where certain questions need to be raised.

There are several counts against Smollett’s judgment due to falsifying police documents and the transaction prior to the incident, but is this enough to discredit a violent act as a hate crime?

These individuals were allegedly paid to commit a hate crime, but individuals have free will. Any human with a basic understanding of right and wrong has the opportunity to act in a way that is acceptable to society; to decide whether or not to commit acts of hate.

No one forced these two individuals to perform the alleged attack. An act of hateful violence is an act of hateful violence, and there is no way of arguing against that. If the attack was carried out in the way it was described by Smollett, it is still considered a hate crime despite Smollett’s actions.

The troubling part is that there is no evidence to show that this was an act of violence, though the aftermath of the alleged attack backs the narrative that Smollett was involved in an altercation.

When it was revealed that there was reason to believe the event was staged, a burden was placed on multiple communities. The black community, the LGBTQ community, Trump supporters and Democrats alike are now struggling to reclaim their credibility in their fight for justice.

If Smollett did orchestrate this event and he is proven guilty, this will place a strain on marginalized communities who seek empathy from the public in times of need.

Violent crimes that use hateful and divisive language are punishable even if they are allegedly staged, and there is no excuse for bigoted behavior that causes physical harm.

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