Jussie Smollett Hoax: Why Hate Crimes Should Still be Taken Seriously

Living in a time where political climates are tense, hideous events such as hate crimes are unfortunately nothing new. In October, we watched in horror as a man shot up a Pittsburgh synagogue during a Shabbat service, killing eleven people and injuring seven. On February 20, we saw a Florida resident be charged for pointing a gun and yelling racial slurs at a group of black teens participating in a Martin Luther King Jr anti-violence march. And for the past month, we followed as Jussie Smollett, the famous black and openly gay ‘Empire’ actor, was attacked in a hate crime and then shocked when he was indicted for false accusations.

On January 22, a cautionary letter containing death threats and the phrase ‘MAGA’ against Smollett was sent to Fox Studios. Almost a week later, two men attacked Smollett around 2 am, wrapping a noose around his neck and pouring an unknown substance on him. They were also noted for yelling “This is MAGA country” as they carried out the attack in a report Smollett filed as a hate crime. After a series of investigates and press conferences, on February 16 it was revealed that Nigerian brothers, Ola and Abel Osundairo, had been paid by Smollett to attack him. Five days later, Smollett turned himself in and was released on bond of $100,000.

This ordeal has left people shaking their heads and taking sides. Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson stated in a press conference on Thursday morning, “I’m left hanging my head and asking why. Why would anyone, especially an African American man, use the symbolism of a noose to make false accusations? How could someone look at the hate and suffering associated with that symbol and see an opportunity to manipulate that symbol to further his own public profile?” (People). Yet, others have spoken out in defence of Smollett. ‘Empire’ co-star, posted a video of Smollett laughing as he rocks a giggling baby, with the caption “All your lil homies got you... We love the hell out of you”.

Yet, no matter what side one takes, it is undeniably clear how sad and unfortunate the incident is. Hate crimes are real and are on the rise, despite the .3% that are regrettably false. The FBI has reported that in 2017, hate crimes rose 17% across the nation, nearly doubling the amount that occurred in 2016. And these numbers do not account for the 50% that go unreported. It is evident that after the 2016 election and increasingly divided nation, hate crimes have risen as a result The Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville is a direct result of the hostility that is being spread by public officials, leading white supremacists, racists, and Nazi sympathizers to believe that hate is protected by the first amendment. Hate crimes will continue to plague our streets, schools, and places of worship until we stop normalizing animosity.








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