“Empire” actor Jussie Smollett‘s oldest sibling is coming to his defense, doubling down on the feeling that his younger brother was convicted “in the court of public opinion before he even entered a courtroom.”
JoJo Smollett wrote an op-ed that was published on Sunday on BET.com. He defended his brother’s innocence in the wake of allegations he staged his own racist and homophobic attack in the middle of the night in late January in Chicago.
“It has not yet been 90 days since my younger brother, Jussie Smollett, was assaulted on a cold winter night in Chicago,” JoJo Smollett, 41, writes. “Within less than three months, his life has been turned upside down as my family and I have witnessed him endure unrelenting attacks to his character and reputation. Like so many others, this entire process quickly devolved from a focus on him as a victim of assault, to him being falsely accused and held responsible for a crime that was perpetrated against him. To define this experience as unjust would be an understatement.”
JoJo Smollett says Chicago cops deliberately leaked info at regular intervals so that “many in the media accepted these unconfirmed reports as fact” and that led to his brother being “convicted … in the court of public opinion before he even entered a courtroom.”
Of the Osundario brothers, who JoJo claims Jussie, 37, believes were not his attackers, he wrote that “detectives refused to show Jussie video, photos, or any evidence to prove they were the attackers.”
“Is that all it takes to destroy a lifelong dedication to one’s craft and community?” JoJo writes. “Is it really that easy to convince the world of a person’s guilt? Is that all it takes to turn someone’s life upside down in America? Simply ask yourself this, ‘What if Jussie is telling the truth?’ ”
JoJo Smollett says the explanation offered by Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson that Jussie Smollett staged the incident in order to raise his profile and negotiate a higher salary is preposterous in light of what the actor-singer has going on now.
“Jussie had actually begun directing episodes of ‘Empire,’ which brought additional compensation. He worked out a deal with Fox to own 100% of his music masters, released an album, which led to a sold-out world tour and he donated every cent of ticket sales to charity. He even signed the group, June’s Diary, to his label.”
JoJo Smollett says the wholesale vilification of Jussie Smollett by the city of Chicago, the White House, the police unions and many in the media have incited “violent” sleep episodes JoJo Smollett termed as “night terrors.”
He concluded his essay by writing, “I am definitely not asking you to feel sorry for my brother. He would never allow that. He still carries a humility, grace and knows he walks in more rarified air than so many people who have been wrongly accused and paying a heavy price. I am simply hoping there are some conscious-minded people out there who, instead of carelessly victim blaming and shaming, want to loudly ask the simple question: ‘What if Jussie is telling the truth?’ ”