Whether or not Jussie Smollett orchestrated the attack he says happened on Jan. 29, he “still has the presumption of innocence until he has his day in court,” said Chicago Police Department superintendent Eddie Johnson in a televised interview.
Speaking to Good Morning America anchor Robin Roberts in a segment that aired Monday morning, Johnson said that the Empire star should be presumed innocent of all wrongdoing until proven otherwise. He also reminded viewers that racist and homophobic attacks like the one Smollett says he experienced happen all the time — they just don’t receive nearly as much news coverage, if any, when they happen to people who aren’t famous.
“[Whatever the outcome of the Smollett investigation,] I just hope people don’t judge other folks that are victims of these type of crimes,” said Johnson.
— Good Morning America (@GMA) February 25, 2019
Smollett previously appeared on Good Morning America nearly two weeks ago. Speaking to Roberts, he stood by his version of events.
Gay Black men like Smollett are among “some of the most vulnerable to violence in the LGBTQ+ community,” the New York City Anti-Violence Project said in a statement following news of the actor’s alleged attack. And as Out staff writer Mathew Rodriguez wrote last month, hate crimes — i.e., criminal offenses motivated by bias against a group of people — are on the rise nationally.
“There are real victims of crimes of that nature — hate crimes — and I just hope that people don’t treat them with skepticism,” Johnson told Roberts on Good Morning America. “[The Smollett case] is one particular incident, and it has to stand on its own merits.”
He has a point — save your skepticism for the Chicago Police Department, which didn’t move half this quickly in its investigation of Jason Van Dyke, the police officer who, in 2018, was convicted of murdering LaQuan McDonald four years prior, despite having dash-cam footage of the incident the entire time!