It must’ve sounded good at the time.
I mean, even though you probably thought it through, you didn’t think it through well enough — your apparent early panic was a little warning sign when the mayor and the police declared they’d spare no expense in money or manpower to track down the losers who attacked you. That must’ve worried you even more than your lack of superstar status, huh?
I wanted to weigh in on this topic several times over the last three years but I held my pen — I really, really, really wanted to give you the benefit of the doubt.
It turns out, the attacker was you. You destroyed your credibility, your career — your name is a punchline across the globe. Now, I don’t really care what you do to yourself. But, Jussie, you didn’t stop there.
The biggest problem with your trial was your persecutors — oops, prosecutors — could logically explain every weird little coincidence that happened on that cold January night in 2019. Why else would Abimbola and Olabingo Osundairo, two brothers you know and regularly interact with, be lurking in your street at 2:45 a.m. on Jan. 29, 2019? It’s been a while since I lived in Chicago but the Streeterville neighborhood must have seemed a good place to stage the action, with all the cameras around, huh? Even though pretty much no one would describe it as “MAGA country?”
According to the Associated Press (AP), former Chicago detective Michael Theis told jurors he initially viewed you as a victim of a homophobic and racist attack. He said police absolutely didn’t rush to judgment. He said investigators were excited when they were able to track the movements of two suspected attackers. He said the case had become international news and that “everybody from [then-Mayor Rahm Emanuel] on down” wanted the awful case solved.
But after police arrested the Osundairos, the brothers spilled the beans, Jussie. Detectives did what detectives do and looked hard at the Osundairos’ story. As luck would have it, their narrative checked out, much of it confirmed using GPS, cellular records, video evidence and logs from ride-sharing services. Theis described how detectives were able to confirm that you picked the Osundairo brothers up days before the attack to drive them around your neighborhood and discuss what would happen. Theis said police found no instance where they concluded the Osundairos were lying. No wonder you refused to hand over your cell phone!
“At the end… we determined that the alleged hate crime was actually a staged event,” Theis said.
Jurors watched surveillance video on which the Osundairos bought supplies, including a red hat they told police you wanted them to wear so they’d resemble supporters of then-President Donald Trump along with a piece of clothesline later tied into that abominable noose. Jurors saw a video capture that showed you returning home the night of the alleged attack with the clothesline-noose draped loosely over your shoulder. Since the noose was wrapped around your neck when the cops showed up, they believed you retied it.
Man, it sickens me just recounting this.
Special prosecutor Dan Webb said 26 Chicago officers spent 3,000 hours at a cost of well over $100,000 trying to solve a fake crime. That’s a chunk of cash, Jussie, but the money was hardly the main issue. Webb went on to say, “…a fake crime that denigrates what a real-hate crime is and to use these meanings and symbols that are so important in our society. It’s clear why the police would take it seriously.” Turns out they took it a little too seriously, huh, Jussie?
Then there was your motivation. An actor, singer and filmmaker who had a little talent but, dang it, not enough people noticed. For a guy who called himself “the gay Tupac,” you clearly believed you were deserving of a whole lot more public adoration than you were getting. What better way to grab it than to boost your name into the stratosphere by playing the real-life role of a gay Black man who endured a vicious racist attack on a bitterly cold Chicago street?
They keep saying your biggest role was on a show called “Empire” but I suspect that role paled when compared to your version of street theater.
I had no idea who you were — I’d neither heard your name nor seen your work. In this sense, I suppose your plan worked beyond your wildest expectations. Pretty much all of North America and beyond knows who Jussie is now.
You struck me as having a paradoxical mix of equal parts arrogance and hesitance — like you thought you were a big cheese but also had a lot of doubts about yourself. Now, I’ve never met you and likely never will so it’s not really my place to psychoanalyze you. Still, if lay-psychologist me could sense your shaky self-esteem propped up by your disproportionate conceit, I can only imagine what a professional would deduce. It’s almost like you’d have been better off admitting what you did, then pleading some mental defect as an excuse. Some of the public you so badly wanted to transfix would’ve sucked that right up. “I hate what Jussie did, but the poor guy was suffering [insert mental defect]!”
Here’s the bottom line, Jussie. I don’t spend much time following celebrity news — in fact, considering our ancestors correctly ranked actors right around where they valued prostitutes, I pretty much avoid all the smutty gossip you guys generate.
But when you leveraged your race in a colossally stupid and selfish attempt to boost your name recognition and popularity, you spat in the faces of thousands of people of color who actually suffered. You planted millions of seeds of doubt in the minds of people who are badly needed in the fight against racism. You single-handedly damaged efforts to combat the very real racism that you cheapened with your grotesque narcissism. If that wasn’t enough, you further inflamed a divided country when you made your attackers Trump supporters.
Your self-absorption is unreal.
I cannot speak for any person of color, Jussie, not even you. But I hope you find some speck of regret deep inside you. I hope you find a way to start undoing the damage you did, the mess you made.
You probably won’t do prison time but I sure hope you get saddled with a decade of community service and a hefty bill from the City of Chicago.
If I thought you had half the talent you seem to believe you have, I’d suggest you could mentor some troubled kids or something. But, no. That’d take maturity, humility and maybe a little remorse.
Well, Jussie, there’s always the appeal.
Photocomposite © Dominick D via Wiki CC SA2.0; Chicago P.D.