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Jury selection begins trial on actor fake assault – NBC10 Philadelphia

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Jury selection begins Monday as former “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett is set to stand trial alleging he orchestrated a racist attack on himself.

Smollett, an openly gay and black actor, reported to Chicago police that he was the victim of a hate crime that attracted national attention. Nearly three years later, Smollett is set to stand trial on a charge that he staged the whole affair.

He was charged with disorderly conduct after law enforcement and prosecutors said he lied to police about what happened in the early morning hours of January 29, 2019. in downtown Chicago. He has pleaded not guilty.

Jussie Smollett arrives at the Chicago courthouse, where his trial is scheduled to begin Monday with jury choice.

Disruption, a level 4 felony, carries a sentence of up to three years in prison but experts say it is more likely that if Smollett is found guilty, he will be placed on probation and perhaps ordered to perform community service. copper.

Smollett told police he was walking home from a Subway sandwich shop at 2 a.m. when two men he said had recognized him from the TV show “Empire” began throwing racial and homophobic taunts against him. He said men attacked him, put a makeshift noose around his neck and shouted, “This is MAGA country,” a reference to then-President Donald Trump’s campaign slogan. now, “Make America Great Again.”

The response to his reported attack underscored the increasingly polarized political landscape; Democratic politicians and others called it a shocking example of bigotry and hate in the Trump era, while Republicans accused libertarians of hastily painting people Support the president is racist.

Just a few weeks later, it was a stunning announcement that Smollett had been accused of staging the attack to further his career and secure a higher salary. And, police said, he hired two brothers from Nigeria to pretend to attack him for $3,500.

This made Smollett’s attention all the more brilliant, but this time he was vilified as someone willing to use one of the most powerful symbols of racism in America to advance. his career.

Judge John Fitzgerald Lyke Jr., who was black, said during Smollett’s first court appearance: “The most vile and despicable part, if that’s true, is the noose. “That symbolism evokes such evil in the history of this country.”

Smollett also became a national boxer. He’s the subject of a “Saturday Night Live” skit, and a slew of Black celebrities, from NBA analyst Charles Barkley to comedian Dave Chappelle, take turns teasing him.

Then there was anger that Smollett’s popularity had given him an influence that was mostly out of reach. Reports indicate that Cook State Attorney Kim Foxx, at the request of First Lady Michelle Obama’s one-time chief of staff, contacted a member of the Smollett family early in the investigation.

Foxx re-offends then her office suddenly drops the charges, and Foxx finds herself at the center of a media storm when she dismisses the suggestion that her office give the TV star quit one’s job.

After a new report criticized her handling of the Jussie Smollett case, Illinois Attorney Kim Foxx is facing calls to resign from her electoral rival. NBC 5’s Patrick Fazio reports.

All of that set the stage for what turned a simple question of Smollett’s innocence or guilt into a complicated legal story that spanned nearly three years.

The trial was delayed in part because of the COVID-19 pandemic, which halted cases around the country for months. However, charges were filed, dropped and resubmitted by a special prosecutor, who was brought in to take over the case.

Smollett – whose career has faded since then – will be back in the media spotlight this week, but this time as he makes his way through the jungle of news cameras as he walks to and from court .

The producers of “Empire,” which he starred in for four years, renewed his contract for a sixth and final season in 2019, but he has never appeared in an episode. He also hasn’t released any music or had significant musical performances.

However, he has directed an independent film, financed by his own production company, which is premiering at the Black American Film Festival this month. The movie “B-Boy Blues” is an adaptation of the 1994 novel, the first in the series, about the lives of gay black men in New York.

But once it goes to court, what will happen will be a movie that sounds like a bad movie for the simple reason that a short film is exactly what the authorities have long been trying to create. Smollett.

Key witnesses will be two brothers, Abimbola and Olabinjo Osundairo, who say Smollett wrote them a check in preparation for the attack. They were expected to portray Smollett as a star and director of an “attack” in full view of a surveillance camera that he mistakenly thought would capture the entire event.

And, according to their attorney, the brothers will also describe how Smollett drove them to the incident site for a “dress rehearsal.”

Their lawyer, Gloria Rodriguez, said: “He told them, ‘This is a camera, a camera and this is where you’re going to run away.

https://www.nbcphiladelphia.com/entertainment/entertainment-news/jussie-smollett-trial-jury-selection-begins-in-trial-over-whether-actor-faked-attack/3061940/ Jury selection begins trial on actor fake assault – NBC10 Philadelphia

Aila Slisco

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