On Martin Luther King Day, let’s look again at the Jussie Smollett case

Chelli Stanley January 18, 2021
Civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. (Getty Images)

Would Martin Luther King Jr. join the public in ridiculing and hating a Black man based solely on the words of the most notoriously corrupt police department in America – the Chicago police department? No. It’s clear King would not join in.

Would Martin Luther King Jr. wonder why the Chicago police – who are infamous for misconduct, tampering with video evidence, and lying to the public – were suddenly bragging about their skilled detectives solving the case in two weeks and then presenting the public with a confusing story that has confounded the masses to this day? Yes, it’s clear King would have many questions about this.

Would King be concerned that the Chicago police’s story caused hatred and mockery to spread rapidly through society? Yes, it’s clear King would be concerned.

So, in the spirit of Martin Luther King Jr, let’s look again at the Jussie Smollett case.

Many public figures recently published an open letter condemning Chicago Police Department (CPD) for lying to the public in the Jussie Smollett case. The letter was signed by many people like Angela Davis, Danny Glover, Gina Belafonte, Melina Abdullah, Erika Huggins of the Black Panther Party, Fania Davis, and Gwen Carr, the mother of Eric Garner. Though this open letter signed by these renowned Black leaders included extensive evidence of CPD’s misconduct in this case, it was not widely reported in the media, and few people heard about it.

However, every time a Black person, such as Dave Chappelle or Chris Rock, took their turns in publicly tearing down Jussie Smollett, a Black man – based solely on the words of CPD – the media splashed it in the headlines gleefully.

When CPD held press conferences and went on speaking tours saying that it had skillfully solved the case and two Nigerian brothers were actually the attackers, it was published on every news channel for weeks, as a kind of Pan-African embarrassment and a case of utter buffoonery. It was published so relentlessly that people got tired of hearing about it.

In the spirit of MLK, let’s examine the evidence that shows clearly that this was not a case of Black men lying or Pan-African buffoonery, and see that the Chicago police have been lying to the public about this entire case. Let’s look at the evidence Chicago police found at the scene within three days of the attack on Jussie, rather than naively believe their words when they tell us a Black man is guilty before he even went to trial.

CPD found multiple videos of two suspects at the scene and running from the scene, and spoke with multiple witnesses within three days of the attack against Jussie. All this evidence clearly showed that there were white-masked men at the scene and running from the scene. CPD documented this all in their own reports. To see the screenshots from the police reports and understand the many dynamics involved, please watch this video: https://youtu.be/hncIt0Ldngg

However, CPD then hid all these videos and witnesses and repeatedly lied to the public, saying that they couldn’t find any video evidence at all. At this point, many in the public became confused and began to doubt Jussie’s story. Rather than doubt the words of CPD, which is known for lying to the public and hiding video evidence, the public turned on a Black man who had just reported a hate crime.

After hiding this evidence, CPD were then free to arrest two Nigerian brothers and tell the public the brothers had committed the attack as part of an elaborate hoax. The misconduct that the brothers were subjected to during their interrogation is startling, but not surprising in Chicago – the “false confession capital” of the country. The details of CPD’s misconduct towards the Osundairo brothers can also be seen in this video, with screenshots from the police’s reports. The brothers then became CPD’s star witnesses – and only witnesses – against Jussie, and had all possible threatened charges against them dropped as a result.

Rahm Emanuel, Donald Trump, and others then took their turns in publicly attacking Jussie, despite all the clear evidence that CPD lied and committed extensive misconduct in the case – and amazingly, documented their misconduct in their own reports. The media reported on these attacks every day while neglecting to mention that CPD was lying, as the public outcry against Jussie heightened to a fevered pitch.

Martin Luther King Jr. also knew what it felt like to have the media turn on him after more than 160 newspapers wrote vicious editorials about him in 1967 after he denounced the American government for the “hundreds of thousands trembling under our violence” throughout the world. Afterward, the public began to turn on King as well.

King was a man who stood for justice despite the attacks against him – and he faced so many attacks. It is this spirit we must remember in Martin Luther King Jr, the spirit to tell the truth even when it is unpopular. The spirit to speak the truth to those in power on behalf of those they mercilessly attack, even if it costs us something.

We must remember his spirit of independence. He did not follow the crowd, he led himself on a difficult journey to transform the future, and in doing so, inspired the world. He could not have done that if he was tricked into believing every word of his oppressors, and there is no way Dr. Martin Luther King Jr would have believed every word of the Chicago police department in the Jussie Smollett case.

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: January 18, 2021


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