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Empire actor Jussie Smollett to stand trial today for alleged false racist and homophobic attack

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A popular actor takes to the streets and is brutally reminded that, despite his fame and wealth, there are still places where his skin color and sexual orientation put him in danger.

This is the story that ricocheted around the world after Jussie Smollett, a black and openly gay actor, reported to Chicago police that he was the victim of a hate crime.

Almost three years later, Smollett is on the verge of being tried for organizing everything.

He was charged with the misdemeanor of disorderly conduct after law enforcement and prosecutors said he lied to police about what happened in the early morning of January 29, 2019 in downtown Chicago. He pleaded not guilty. Jury selection is due to start on Monday. Disorderly driving, a Class 4 felony, carries a sentence of up to three years in prison, but experts said it was more likely that if Smollett was found guilty he would be placed on probation and possibly sentenced to perform community service.

Smollett told police he was walking home from a Subway sandwich shop at 2 a.m. when two men he said recognized him from the Empire TV show started hurling racial and homophobic slurs at him. He said the men punched him, put a makeshift noose around his neck and shouted: This is MAGA country, a reference to President Donald Trumps’ campaign slogan, Make America Great Again.

The reaction to his reported aggression has underscored the increasingly polarized political landscape; Democratic politicians and others have called it a shocking example of Trump-era fanaticism and hatred, while Republicans have accused Liberals of rushing to portray the president’s supporters as racists.

A few weeks later came the astonishing announcement that Smollett was accused of organizing the attack to continue his career and earn a higher salary. And, Police said he hired two brothers from Nigeria, to pretend to attack him for $ 3,500.

It shone the spotlight on Smollett even more, 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.

The most vile and despicable part, if it is true, is the noose, Judge John Fitzgerald Lyke Jr., who is black, said during Smolletts’ first appearance. This symbol evokes such an evil in the history of this country.

Smollett has also become a national punchline. He was the subject of a Saturday Night Live skit and a host of black celebrities, from NBA analyst Charles Barkley to comedian Dave Chappelle, took turns laughing at him.

Then came the anger that Smolletts’ fame bestowed upon him an influence that is beyond the reach of most. Reports say Cook County District Attorney Kim Foxx, at the request of former First Lady Michelle Obamas, a former chief of staff, contacted a member of the Smolletts family early in the investigation. Foxx withdrew from the case, then her office suddenly dropped the charges, and Foxx found itself at the center of a media storm as she refuted the suggestion that her office had given the star a break. from television.

All of this set the stage for what turned a simple question of Smolletts’ innocence or guilt into a convoluted legal saga that spanned nearly three years.

The trial has been delayed in part because of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has disrupted business across the country for months. But also, charges were laid, fall and filed again by a special prosecutor who was in charge of the case.

Smollett, whose career has since faded, will return to the media spotlight this week, but this time as he walks past the forest of press cameras on his way to court.

The producers of Empire, on which he played for four years, renewed his contract for the sixth and final season in 2019, but he never appeared in an episode. He also did not release any music or give significant musical performances.

He has, however, made an independent film, funded by his own production company, which will premiere at the American Black Film Festival this month. The B-Boy Blues movie is an adaptation of a 1994 novel, the first in a series, about the lives of gay black men in New York City.

But once in court, what will unfold will be what may seem like a bad movie for the simple reason that a short film is exactly what authorities have long argued Smollett was trying to create.

Key witnesses will be the brothers, Abimbola and Olabinjo Osundairo, who say Smollett wrote them a check to organize the attack. They are expected to characterize Smollett as the star and director of a surveillance camera sight attack that he believes would record the entire event.

And, according to their attorney, the brothers will also describe how Smollett got them to where the incident was scheduled to take place for a dress rehearsal.

He was telling them “Here’s a camera, here’s a camera and this is where you’re going to run,” said their lawyer, Gloria Rodriguez.

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