A number of star-studded celebs are now standing in solidarity with former Empire actor, Jussie Smollett following his jail sentencing last week.
The 39-year-old was convicted of staging a hate crime attack on himself in 2019 and will now serve 150 days in jail. He is also ordered to pay more than $120,000 in restitution to the city of Chicago.
Taraji P. Henson, Indya Moore, and the star’s sister, Jurnee Smollett, are among the big names who have spoken out against the court ruling. On Mar. 13, Jurnee finally broke her silence about the case on Instagram, sharing a post with the words “#FREEJUSSIE” in bold.
“Black Americans are incarcerated in state prisons at nearly five times the rate of White Americans,” The Love Craft Country alum wrote in her caption. “Jussie is innocent. And…you don’t have to believe in his innocence to believe he should be free.”
Smollett’s former Empire co-star. Taraji P. Henson also showed public support for the actor amid his highly publicized court battle. The Facebook Watch host claimed that Smollett’s sentencing was unfair.
“I am not here to debate you on his innocence but we can agree that the punishment does not fit the crime,” Henson argued. “Emmett Till was brutally beat and ultimately murdered because of a lie and none of the people involved with his demise spent one day in jail, even after Carolyn Bryant admitted that her claims were false. No one was hurt or killed during Jussie’s ordeal. He has already lost everything, EVERYTHING!”
The 51-year-old, who’s gearing up for her role in the upcoming musical remake of The Colored Purple, noted how hard it is for artists like Jussie to survive in the entertainment and film industry. Henson said she felt as though the case impacted the star’s ability to land roles.
“To me as an artist not able to create that in itself is punishment enough. He can’t get a job,” she added. “No one in Hollywood will hire him and again as an artist who loves to create, that is prison. My prayer is that he is freed and put on house arrest and probation because in this case that would seem fair. Please #freejussie.”
Pose star Indya Moore wrote a post in support of Smollett on Instagram, writing to her 1.6 million fans:
“Jussie, I recognize that You are so strong, beyond measure and external foresight. you are so brave.
I believe in your ability to stay rooted in the truth, and to listen to your own inner voice at this time. You will survive this and you will Thrive bigger and brighter than ever before…”
Indya later doubled down in another post and said that the actor should not be facing jail time.
“I say that to say- my discernment to stand with Jussie isn’t a mistake I feel that I am making at all. I dont have a weird feeling in my tummy about him, i have a weird feeling in my tummy about this case..
Regardless of Whether it is believed to be true that jussie staged his own hate crime, which is very difficult for me to believe- he should not be serving jail time, no matter how pretty the prison is.”
After Smollett’s verdict was read on Mar. 11, the actor maintained his innocence, telling the courtroom that he did not commit the bogus attack on himself.
I am innocent and I am not suicidal. If I did this, then it means that I stuck my fist in the fears of Black Americans in this country for over 400 years and the fears of the LGBT community…if anything happens to me when I go in there, I did not do it to myself and you must all know that. … I am not suicidal,” he said with vigor as police escorted him out of the courtroom.
As BOSSIP previously reported, on Jan. 29, 2019, Smollet filed a police report with the city of Chicago claiming that he was violently attacked by two men who began hurling racial and homophobic slurs at him while he was walking near his Streeterville apartment in downtown Chicago. The star claimed he was en route to eat at Subway around 2 am that morning. The two male suspects allegedly tied a noose around his neck and shouted “This is MAGA Country” during the heated exchange.
Following his prison sentence, Smollett must spend 30 months on felony probation. Additionally, Smollett has been ordered to pay $25,000 in fines for committing the staged hoax.
Unfortunately, according to the actor’s brother, Jocqui Smollett, Jussie’s prison sentence is already off to a tough start. Jocqui took to social media over the weekend and claimed that his brother was allegedly being held in the psych ward at a Chicago jail.
“What’s very concerning is that there was a note attached to the paperwork today, and it said on the front of his jail cell … that he is at risk of self-harm,” Jocqui explained in the video post.
“I want to just make it clear to folks that he is in no way shape or form at risk to self-harm and he wants to let folks know that, that he is very stable, he is very strong, he is very healthy and ready to take on the challenge that ultimately has been put up against him,” the sibling clarified.
“This is not right,” he added. “This is complete lack of justice. It’s angering, it’s an outrage.”
You can watch the full video below.