I had written about a thousand words that I found to be frankly beyond rambling and I straddled the fence so hard that I was embarrassed with myself. If you don’t know the story around Jussie Smollett, take the time to read it on your news source of choice.
At the end of the day, I believe one thing regardless of the reports that have come out that suggest he has orchestrated this to happen.
Stop. Breathe. Wait for the story to come out.
On one side, you have those who are wondering why he would do this and refuse to believe the reports that are coming out. There’s nothing wrong with that at all. The logical side of me is right there with you. Him orchestrating this makes absolutely no sense to me.
On the other side, you have people up in arms about this. You’re right as well. If he did this, it puts him in a horrible light and he deserves to be charged for the crimes he’s committed (filing a false police report comes to mind). He has put other victims of hate crimes, sexual assault, etc. in a bad light that gives those who are inclined to not believe victims a leg to stand on now.
So everyone just stop. The truth will come out (hopefully). The problem is that the Chicago Police Department have been spreading these stories, not once, but twice. Their sources have been leaking information and the first time it happened, not too long afterwards an arrest was made. Of course, the arrest was of two NIgerian brothers, one of which happened to be on the show that Jussie is on. That doesn’t have the right look in the least bit.
If the CPD could stop the leaks and let the case unfold as it’s supposed to, making an official statement instead of senior officials influencing the narrative, that would make a significant difference. The CPD, and all law enforcement officials, have an expectation and duty to be objective in the way they act and enforce our laws. The takeaway here, regardless of what the truth is in this moment, has to be we need to continue to hold our law enforcement to a higher standard.
The initial reports of doubting someone’s account of what happened, of being dismissive about it, is not something unique to Smollett’s case. Far from it. You hear the stories of it every week now. With women coming forward and telling their stories. When asked why they don’t go to the police sooner, it’s because when they do, they’re told how difficult it is to prosecute these cases, to find evidence, to charge individuals with the charges they should be charged with.
The CPD should be looking to shut down these leaks and ensure the case is being given the due diligence and respect it deserves. When they release an official statement, it should be as objective as possible to not discourage other victims to come forward if it’s found Smollett is guilty of telling a bogus story and should also tell the story of the hundreds of other cases they investigate that turn out to be completely true and convictions are earned as a result of the hard work so many officers perform.
By letting these stories out there, they influence the conversation and provide ammunition to a story that shouldn’t even enter into the discourse; that victims are lying and are not to be trusted. The evidence has been repeated time and time again this couldn’t be further from the truth and when it happens, it’s a rarity.
Smollett may have done damage and I suspect eventually we will find out the truth. Yet, Smollett is simply human and will suffer those punishments if that’s the truth. The CPD and other police departments across the nation are supposed to be institutions of virtue, the truth-seekers and organizations that don’t judge people for their transgressions, instead following the letter of the law and the standards that have been put in front of them.
Let’s hope we see that happen in this case, because that’s where the true discussion needs to be around.