DENVER — “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett is out on bond after being arrested for allegedly filing a false police report.
Smollet is accused of mailing himself a letter containing racial and homophobic slurs to the Empire Studio in Chicago.
Chicago police Superintendent Eddie T. Johnson says Smollett took advantage of the pain and anger of racism to promote his career.
“I’m offended by what’s happened. I’m also angry,” said Johnson. “Bogus police reports cause real harm. They do harm to every legitimate victim who’s in need of support by police.”
Those who believed Smollett are upset and confused. Jason Styles is a black gay man who lives in the Denver area. He said he has been a victim of hateful behavior.
“I did feel for him,” Styles said. “I was angry. I was angry and I was let down.”
Victim advocates say despite Smollett’s allegedly false story, hate crimes are still very real.
At the University of Denver, Psychology Professor Dr. Apryl Alexander says she doesn’t want the rare false report to deter people from believing victims.
“I think it’s going to give the community a sense of skepticism when victims do report,” Alexander said.
Alexander believed Smollett at first too.
“As I heard the story, knowing that 90 percent of cases where victims reports are real, I believed Jussie as did a lot of the people in the community,” Alexander said. “I hope the counter-narrative is that this is a rarity.”
“Now, this lets the community down. Not only the black community who has supported him, the gay community as well,” Styles said.