“Empire” star Jussie Smollett is still maintaining his innocence amidst a mountain of evidence that he faked a hate crime attack on himself by paying two Nigerian extras on his show to assault him and make it look like an attack by President Trump supporters.
After bonding out of jail Thursday, Smollett headed straight to the set of “Empire” to shoot some scenes and talk to his fellow cast members, according to CNN’s sources.
According to TMZ’s sources, which have not always been reliable in reporting on this case, Smollett told everyone on the set, "I’m sorry I’ve put you all through this and not answered any calls. I wanted to say I’m sorry and, you know me, I would never do this to any of you, you are my family. I swear to God, I did not do this.”
His assurance of innocence wasn’t enough to pacify the show’s executives, who announced on Friday that his character “Jamal” had been cut from the final two episodes of the season they’re currently working on.
According to Fox News, the show’s creators offered some support for Smollett but said they “are placing our trust in the legal system as the process plays out” and added, "We are also aware of the effects of this process on the cast and crew members who work on our show and to avoid further disruption on set, we have decided to remove the role of ‘Jamal’ from the final two episodes of the season.”
Despite the fact that most Trump supporters, many people in the black and gay communities, and numerous liberals believe Smollett perpetrated a hoax on the nation and aren’t looking kindly upon him for it, one CNN panelist tried to argue that the actor did something good for America with all of this.
“I’ve known Jussie for eight years,” said progressive CNN political commentator Keith Boykin. “As an African-American, as a black gay man, as someone who’s just watched his career develop, I feel devastated by this. It’s heartbreaking. I’m hoping still, in spite of all the overwhelming evidence that’s presented, that it’s not true. And he’s still innocent until proven guilty.”
After admitting that Smollett’s story was hard to believe from the start but adding that his suggested motive — wanting to generate fame and fortune for himself — was hard to believe, too, Boykin gave examples of recent hate crimes against gay black men.
“There’s a lot of argument that says this makes it harder for future [hate crime] cases, and I understand that. But at the same time, I think a lot of people are looking for excuses to make these things harder,” he said, implying that a whole lot of Americans want hate crimes to happen.
“And people haven’t paid attention to these cases in the past,” Boykin continued. “They haven’t paid attention to the lives of LGBTQ people or black trans people, regardless of whether they’re celebrities.”
“The sad thing is it took a celebrity for us to even focus attention on this,” he concluded, suggesting that he’s happy Smollett got the country talking about real hate crimes.
But many people, liberal and conservative, pointed out that nothing good has come out of Smollett’s alleged lie — and continued lies.