On Wednesday, the defense rested and closing arguments began in the federal Chicago trial for Empire star Jussie Smollett.
According to CNN, Smollett concluded the latter half of his testimony in the earlier part of the day, after which prosecutors took back the floor to lay out their case against the actor. Over the next two hours, special prosecutor Dan Webb then proceeded to provide six key points to prove Smollett’s guilt, which included:
- Smollett’s decision to not provide medical, DNA, and cell phone evidence to police.
- The contradictory description Smollett gave to police about the identity of his attackers, alleging that they were white or “pale-skinned.”
- Smollett’s alleged tampering with the noose around his neck. Webb claimed Smollett took off the noose when he arrived at his apartment then put it back on when Chicago Police arrived later that morning. This allegedly directly contradicts what the Empire star told Robin Roberts during his Good Morning America interview, in which he told her “kept the rope on the entire time.”
- The perspective that the Osundairo brothers could not have attacked Smollett without advance knowledge due to the extreme weather—a polar vortex—that was happening at the time of the alleged attack.
- No medical evidence of any serious injuries.
- Smollett’s failure to sign the “criminal complaints laying out the Osundairo brothers were the ones who carried out this alleged crime” back in February 2019. Smollett claimed he was advised by legal counsel not to sign the complaint, even though he agreed to do so initially. However, thanks to a text message sent to Abimbola from the Empire star that read: “Brother I love you, I stand with you, I know you did nothing wrong,”—that decision is now being called into question.
Per Webb, Smollett wanted the Osundairo brothers to know he was going to keep quiet in hopes that they would do the same.
Smollett has continued to maintain his innocence and said that “there was no hoax.” He currently faces six federal counts of disorderly conduct for allegedly lying to the police about the attack. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges. If convicted, he could face up to three years in prison.
Smollett received an outpouring of support from celebs and peers alike when the news first broke in 2019, but many have been quiet since the trial began. One organization that’s sticking beside him, however, is the Los Angeles chapter of Black Lives Matter. Co-founder Melina Abdullah penned an official statement in support of the actor online, writing in part:
In our commitment to abolition, we can never believe police, especially the Chicago Police Department (CPD) over Jussie Smollett, a Black man who has been courageously present, visible, and vocal in the struggle for Black freedom. While policing at-large is an irredeemable institution, CPD is notorious for its long and deep history of corruption, racism, and brutality. From the murders of Fred Hampton and Mark Clark, to the Burge tortures, to the murder of Laquan McDonald and subsequent cover-up, to the hundreds of others killed by Chicago police over the years and the thousands who survived abuse, Chicago police consistently demonstrate that they are among the worst of the worst. Police lie and Chicago police lie especially.
It concluded, “Black Lives Matter will continue to work towards the abolition of police and every unjust system. We will continue to love and protect one another, and wrap our arms around those who do the work to usher in Black freedom and, by extension, freedom for everyone else.”