Amid the skepticism and the scorn over the legal debacle over his alleged hate crime attack, Jussie Smollett's family has stood by him and in a new essay, his eldest brother JoJo Smollett speaks out again in support of the actor and urges people to consider believing his side of the story.
The 36-year-old Empire star had made headlines in January when he told police that two men assaulted him and hurled racial and homophobic slurs at him on a Chicago street. The following month, he was charged with staging the incident himself and filing a false police report. He pleaded not guilty and in March, prosecutors dropped all charges against him, spurring outrage from Chicago police and a $130,000 lawsuit from the city. He maintains his innocence.
"I am definitely not asking you to feel sorry for my brother," JoJo wrote in his essay, posted on BET.com on Saturday. "He would never allow that. He still carries a humility, grace and knows he walks in more rarified air than so many people who have been wrongly accused and paying a heavy price. I am simply hoping there are some conscious-minded people out there who, instead of carelessly victim blaming and shaming, want to loudly ask the simple question: "What if Jussie is telling the truth?"
After his charges were dropped, Jussie flew back to Los Angeles to spend time with his family members and also vacationed with several of them in Hawaii earlier this month. JoJo said that his brother has suffered night terrors since the incident in Chicago.
"Jussie is as strong as iron, but following an attack like this, there is a normal and natural amount of post trauma that mostly anyone should expect to suffer," JoJo wrote. "I have literally seen him violently awakening from night terrors, following the assault. Some of my siblings, as well as Jussie's partner and closest friends have seen similar things."
The case has drawn much public mockery, including from Chris Rock, who threw shade at Jussie at the 2019 NAACP Image Awards.
"Within less than three months, his life has been turned upside down as my family and I have witnessed him endure unrelenting attacks to his character and reputation," JoJo wrote. "Like so many others, this entire process quickly devolved from a focus on him as a victim of assault, to him being falsely accused and held responsible for a crime that was perpetrated against him. To define this experience as unjust would be an understatement."
"What concerned me the most is, as the CPD continued their campaign against Jussie, I started to notice an online 'bandwagon' approaching ignoring whether there were any real facts to suggest his guilt," JoJo wrote. "In an effort to fit in with the momentum on social media, many appeared to roast him, demean him, and laugh at a traumatic and painful ordeal."
He added, "While very few people are courageous enough to swim upstream and resist the popular conformity of the day, I still can't believe how many people failed to ask the question: 'What if Jussie is telling the truth?'"