Jussie Smollett’s disorderly conduct trial begins in Chicago on Monday. The former “Empire” actor maintains he was the victim of a racist and homophobic assault in downtown Chicago on January 29, 2019, but an investigation into the hate crime revealed Smollett allegedly set up the whole incident.
When the attack first made headlines, celebrities rushed to support the 39-year-old before the hoax allegations came to light.
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Howard, who played Smollett’s father on “Empire,” shared an Instagram post at the time of Smollett playing with his son, Hero, on a private plane.
“All your lil homies got you…We love the hell outta you,” the actor wrote along with a heart emoji at the end.
The 52-year-old also fired back when a fan criticized him for supporting Smollett.
“Sorry you feel that way but that’s the only Jussie I know,” he posted. “The Jussie I know could never even conceive of something so unconscious and ugly. His innocence or judgment is not for any of us to decide. Stay in your lane and my lane is empathy and love and compassion for someone I’ve called my son for five years. It’s God’s job to judge and it’s ours to love and hope, especially for those that we claim to have loved.”
CELEBRITY JUSSIE SMOLLETT SUPPORTERS GRAPPLE WITH HOAX REPORTS
Taraji P. Henson
Smollett’s fellow “Empire” co-star told USA Today her feelings about Smollett’s alleged hate crime hoax.
“I know him and I know his track record,” the actress said. “I’m not going to jump on clickbait just because someone says something derogatory about a person I know and love. I’m not easily swayed like that. Those little clickbait [reports] weren’t enough to deter me from his immaculate track record. I know the type of activism this young man does in his community, I know that he’s a giver – he’s not an attention-seeker.”
The 51-year-old continued: “When I know someone, there’s nothing you can say to make me flip on them, and that’s what we miss in this world. We need people that stand by us. Whatever happened to that? Why are we so easy to believe strangers over people we know?”
CHICAGO LEADERS SLAM SMOLLETT, DEMAND APOLOGIES FROM CELEBS WHO CAME TO HIS DEFENSE
Actor and comedian Tyler Perry has continued to stick by his pal Smollett, whom he says he’s “personally spoken” with since the alleged attack.
“He is adamant that he’s telling the truth. Also, everyone that I know who knows him says that he is not the kind of person who would make up such a horrible and awful thing,” the 52-year-old explained in a Facebook post at the time, though he admitted the “evidence seems to state otherwise.”
Rumer Willis, who guest-starred on “Empire” in 2018, called the news of Smollett’s alleged hoax “devastating.”
“I just think it’s a really devastating situation for everybody involved,” the actress told “Access.” “I don’t really know what to say about all of it. I just think it’s really devastating.”
The 33-year-old added that since she hasn’t been on the show “in over a year” she has been “very separate from the whole thing for a while.”
O’Shea Jackson Jr.
“Straight Outta Compton” actor O’Shea Jackson Jr. said Smollett is innocent until proven guilty in his eyes.
“I stand by what I say always. I felt for him when the attack happened and the current reports have made me feel like I was being played. Straight up,” he wrote early Thursday following reports that authorities approved felony criminal charges against the “Empire” star.
When Smollett was officially classified as a suspect, Jackson Jr. appeared to be shocked, tweeting, “Nooooo waaaaaaaaay!!!!!!!”
JUSSIE SMOLLETT’S LAWYERS DENY HE PLANNED ATTACK AFTER CHICAGO POLICE CLAIM HE’S NO LONGER CONSIDERED A VICTIM IN CASE
Smollett is accused of lying to police about the alleged attack and has been charged with felony disorderly conduct. A class 4 felony, the crime carries a sentence of up to three years in prison. However, experts have said it is more likely that if Smollett is convicted he would be placed on probation and perhaps ordered to perform community service.
Abimbola and Olabinjo Osundairo, two brothers, told police Smollett paid them $3,500 to pose as his attackers.
Whether Smollett, who is Black and gay, testifies remains an open question. But the siblings will take the witness stand where they are expected to repeat what they have told police officers and prosecutors — that they carried out the attack at Smollett’s behest.
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Smollett’s attorneys, Todd S. Pugh and Victor P. Henderson, vehemently denied that the attack was a hoax, previously telling the press, “As a victim of a hate crime who has cooperated with the police investigation, Jussie Smollett is angered and devastated by recent reports that the perpetrators are individuals he is familiar with. He has now been further victimized by claims attributed to these alleged perpetrators that Jussie played a role in his own attack. Nothing is further from the truth and anyone claiming otherwise is lying.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.