Jussie Smollett’s brother JoJo penned an op-ed for his embattled brother on BET.com. The Empire star has been under scrutiny since reporting a hate crime on January 29th; since then, Chicago police accused him of conspiring to stage the crime in a bid to raise his public profile.
He was arrested on February 20th, but 16 charges of disorderly conduct for making false reports were dropped against him weeks later. But the scrutiny and criticism hasn’t stopped, and his life has been turned upside down.
“It has not yet been 90 days since my younger brother, Jussie Smollett, was assaulted on a cold winter night in Chicago. 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,” JoJo wrote, adding that he now wakes up from “night terrors” stemming from trauma over the assault and investigation.
He continued: “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. To define this experience as unjust would be an understatement.”
JoJo stands by his brother, who has long maintained his innocence and questions why he—or anyone—would take such drastic measures.
“Is that all it takes to destroy a lifelong dedication to one’s craft and community? Is it really that easy to convince the world of a person’s guilt?” JoJo wrote about the media and police allegations. “Is that all it takes to turn someone’s life upside down in America? Simply ask yourself this, ‘What if Jussie is telling the truth?’ “
Anthony Guglielmi, Chief Communications Officer for the Chicago Police, told People in response to the op-ed: “At the end of the day people have to form their own conclusions. People should have access to unsealed records and form their own conclusions.”