The year 2020 is one for the books in terms of extra newsworthy events, so why not bring in the last few months by throwing it back to one of the major events of 2019 that just won’t go away?
In his first interview in nearly two years, Jussie Smollett sat down with Marc Lamont Hill on Instagram Live Wednesday night for a candid conversation on the rollercoaster that has been his life since January 2019.
The Smollett interview actually followed a discussion with activists Angela Davis and Aislinn Pulley to discuss “the history of policing, abolition, and the broader implications of the Smollett case,” per Hill’s IG caption. Davis, Danny Glover and other notable names recently penned an open letter in solidarity with Smollett as well as other people who have been targeted and harassed by police.
“At a time when the people of Chicago are demanding community control of the police and when our movement for Black Lives demands that police be defunded and demilitarized, Chicago police and prosecutors continue to expend precious public resources to cover up a hate crime and renew their fabricated case against Jussie Smollett,” the letter read.
As Smollett is currently facing six new counts of federal disorderly conduct in which he has been charged with lying to the police, he naturally couldn’t comment on the specifics of the case during his interview with Hill, noting, “I’m still taking the advice of my attorneys.” Smollett pleaded not guilty to the new charges.
“It’s been beyond frustrating because to be somebody that’s so outspoken ...it’s been difficult to be so quiet. To not be able to say all of the things that you want to say, to not be able to yell from the rooftop,” the 37-year-old actor told Hill. “Because, I don’t think people realize that I’ve just been wrapped up in some form of a case for the last, approaching, in just a couple of months approaching two years. It’s been beyond frustrating. I’m certainly not going rogue. I’m still taking the advice of my attorneys and everything like that. But I just don’t see honestly what staying quiet has really done. Where it has gotten me.”
The interview occurred ahead of his court appearance on Thursday.
“They won’t let this go. It doesn’t matter. There is an example being made. And the sad thing is that there’s an example being made of someone that did not do what they’re being accused of,” Smollett said.
When Hill pressed about specifics about the case that raised public doubt of the alleged hate crime, including the fact that police didn’t find anyone matching the description Smollett initially gave in his report, Smollett replied, “I would say, and again I have to be careful what I say because I’m still in a court case, but at the same time, it’s out there. There’s also two other witnesses that saw white men. That saw exactly what I say that I saw.”
Smollett also claimed there is video footage of the alleged incident (which presumably accompanies the video released by the Chicago Police Department), but noted that it cuts off right before the incident happens. Chicago residents have protested in the past in regard to police releasing edited body camera footage.
“I certainly didn’t have the power to cut the tape, so who cut the tape?” Smollett retorted.
“I’m a human being like everybody else,” Smollett continued. “I ingest the media and I read the headlines and all that type of stuff. And I’ve been guilty of taking things at face value, as well. But when you see that happening, and [they’re] talking about you. You know it’s not true. Somehow it becomes different.”
The full interview is below: