Where’s the Accountability?

In light of charges being dropped in the Jussie Smollett case, Smollett’s innocence remains in question as real hate crime victims are left facing the consequences of this investigation.

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Where’s the Accountability?

Actor Jussie Smollett leaves the Leighton Criminal Court building after all charges were dropped in his disorderly conduct case on Tuesday, March 26, 2019. (Antonio Perez/Chicago Tribune/TNS)

Actor Jussie Smollett leaves the Leighton Criminal Court building after all charges were dropped in his disorderly conduct case on Tuesday, March 26, 2019. (Antonio Perez/Chicago Tribune/TNS)

TNS

Actor Jussie Smollett leaves the Leighton Criminal Court building after all charges were dropped in his disorderly conduct case on Tuesday, March 26, 2019. (Antonio Perez/Chicago Tribune/TNS)

TNS

TNS

Actor Jussie Smollett leaves the Leighton Criminal Court building after all charges were dropped in his disorderly conduct case on Tuesday, March 26, 2019. (Antonio Perez/Chicago Tribune/TNS)

Maleah Downton, Editorial Editor

Saturday night, March 30, at the NAACP Image Awards, where nominated actor Jussie Smollett remained a no-show, comedian Chris Rock commented on the alleged hate crime scandal and asked: “What the hell was he thinking?”

This is a question that so many of us share. As I tried to find justifications and maintain my support, Smollett’s innocence continued to shrivel away. The facts simply never aligned.

Back in January, Smollett was allegedly attacked in a hate crime. Smollett said that his attackers, dressed in Trump paraphernalia, yelled out racial and homophobic slurs and proceeded to pour an unknown chemical substance on him as they persisted to tying a noose around his neck, according to CNN.

Following the many twists and turns through the investigation, Smollett found himself arrested and a suspect, indicted on 16 counts of felony disorderly conduct, according to CNN. At this point in the investigation, all fingers likely pointed to Smollett staging the alleged hate crime. However, a month following Smollett’s arrest, the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office unexpectedly dropped all the charges against Smollett claiming that after reviewing evidence and in light of Smollett’s agreement to forfeit his $10,000 bond the decision came to be, according to NY Times.

Despite the dismissal of all charges, Smollett’s guilt has not disappeared with the public. This agreement between himself and the prosecution doesn’t indicate a lack of guilt. On the contrary, it sparks even greater suspicion as this unforeseen resolution fails to align with the attorney’s office’s former firm stance against Smollett.

Chicago Police Department Spokesman Anthony Guglielmi spoke openly on Twitter affirming the department’s investigation while questioning the reasoning behind the new agreement. “Chicago police detectives did an excellent investigation and their work was reaffirmed by an independent grand jury who brought 16 criminal counts,” Guglielmi said. “In our experience, innocent individuals don’t [forfeit] bond & perform community service in exchange for dropped charges.”

As Smollett’s life begins to return to normalcy the question still remains: Where’s the accountability? This scandal has left a far greater impact than simply hurting himself and his career. Through allegedly staging this crime, he has harmed true victims. Victims across the country are continually labeled as liars and blamed, his actions only affirm these damaging opposing views.

Whether Smollett did or didn’t fake the attack is beside the point. Either way, this whole scandal has given people the necessary ammunition to unleash their hate and disbelief upon actual victims. Because of this, victim blaming is perpetuated and the blanket “they’re lying” excuse appears more justified to apply.

So, who takes accountability for this scandal? Who is to blame? Smollett? The alleged attackers? The attorney’s office? The police?

As this case concludes without any ownership of wrongdoings, true victims will face the repercussions. No matter what you believe to be true, actual hate crime victims will be left to suffer as justice for them is continually denied based on claims perpetuated by this roller coaster investigation.

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