Jussie Smollett’s older brother, Jojo Smollett, is supporting him in a new essay published by BET over the weekend.
“It has not yet been 90 days since my younger brother, Jussie Smollett, was assaulted on a cold winter night in Chicago,” the older Smollett wrote. “Within less than three months, his life has been turned upside down as my family and I have witnessed him endure unrelenting attacks to his character and reputation.”
Jussie Smollett, who is black and identifies as gay, told police that two men attacked him on January 29 and yelled racist and homophobic slurs while striking him, police said. The incident ended with a noose being placed around Smollett’s neck, according to police.
He was later investigated for allegedly staging the incident and was indicted on 16 felony disorderly conduct charges.
Smollett was ordered to forfeit his bond of $10,000 and do community service.
The “Empire” actor has maintained his innocence and his brother backed him up in his op-ed, titled “What if Jussie is Telling the Truth?”
“Like so many others, this entire process quickly devolved from a focus on him as a victim of assault, to him being falsely accused and held responsible for a crime that was perpetrated against him,” Jojo Smollett wrote. “To define this experience as unjust would be an understatement.”
He also blasted the Chicago Police Department for leaks in the case and criticized those he said were quick to believe his brother was guilty.
“Let me be clear, it is undeniable that many people on social media support my brother. The love he receives from his village, fans and fellow activists is real,” JoJo Smollett wrote. “His gratitude is unwavering. What concerned me the most is, as the [Chicago Police Department] continued their campaign against Jussie, I started to notice an online ‘bandwagon’ approaching ignoring whether there were any real facts to suggest his guilt.”
He described his younger brother “as strong as iron,” but added that “following an attack like this, there is a normal and natural amount of post trauma that mostly anyone should expect to suffer.”
“I have literally seen him violently awakening from night terrors, following the assault,” JoJo Smollett said. “Some of my siblings, as well as Jussie’s partner and closest friends have seen similar things.”