by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Jussie Smollett, the disgraced actor who portrayed Terry Hall in The Mighty Ducks, is finally standing trial for allegedly staging a hate crime against himself in January 2019. Smollett appeared in a Chicago courtroom on Monday for jury selection. He faces multiple counts of felony disorderly conduct for his role in the alleged hate crime hoax, which was widely and credulously embraced by prominent Democratic politicians at the time.
Smollett maintains his innocence despite the fact that Nigerian brothers Abimbola and Olabinjo Osundairo told police the actor wrote them a $3,500 check to stage the attack and put a rope around his neck to ensure the incident would be treated as a hate crime. They also claim Smollett mailed a threatening letter to himself one week prior to the staged assault.
The actor, who was in Chicago filming the Fox series Empire, claimed he was attacked by two white men wearing “Make America Great Again” hats and shouting racist and homophobic slurs. Smollett insists he did not lie to police when he reported the attack. His attorney has suggested the Nigerian brothers could have been wearing “whiteface.” Otherwise, the evidence of his involvement in the hoax is overwhelming.
When news of the alleged hate crime broke, prominent Democratic politicians rushed to condemn the actions of the racist Trump supporters who were allegedly roaming the streets of Chicago at 2 a.m. to commit a hate crime against a celebrity of minimal renown. “This was an attempted modern-day lynching,” wrote Kamala Harris, days after announcing her campaign for president. “No one should have to fear for their life because of their sexuality or color of their skin. We must confront this hate.”
The Osundairo brothers came forward weeks later, prompting police to investigate Smollett for his role in orchestrating the alleged hate crime.