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Jussie Smollett

Jussie Smollett's Empire Co-Star Taraji P. Henson Compares Him To Emmett Till As Family Rallies Support

Jussie Smollett's Empire Co-Star Taraji P. Henson Calls For His Freedom As Family Rallies Support

Jussie Smollett‘s friends, co-stars, and family members are showing him support in the days following his prison sentence.

Of course, as we previously reported, the 39-year-old actor was sentenced last week to 150 days in jail followed by probation for his role in staging his own hate crime in late January 2019, and filing a false report with the Chicago police. Now, his Empire co-stars and others are coming forward to show support for the star amid his ordeal.

Related: Jussie Defies His Own Lawyers To Give Rare Interview — And Claims He Was ‘Set Up’

In a post published on Instagram this weekend, Taraji P. Henson shared her dismay at her Empire co-star’s five-month-long prison sentence. In the post, the Empire lead compared Jussie’s plight to that of Emmett Till, a black teenager murdered in Mississippi in 1955 after a white woman, Carolyn Bryant, alleged that he’d whistled at her in a store.

Henson compared the two cases, noting the severity of Till’s circumstances and lack of justice in that tragic situation, and slammed the prison sentence levied against Smollett, writing (below):

“I am not here to debate you on his innocence. But we can agree that the punishment does not fit the crime. Emmett Till was brutally beat and ultimately murdered because of a lie, and none of the people involved with his demise spent one day in jail, even after Carolyn Bryant admitted that her claims were false.”

The actress also added this about the Mighty Ducks alum:

“No one was hurt or killed during Jussie’s ordeal. He has already lost everything, EVERYTHING! To me as an artist not able to create that in itself is punishment enough. He can’t get a job. No one in Hollywood will hire him and again as an artist who loves to create, that is prison. My prayer is that he is freed and put on house arrest and probation because in this case that would seem fair. Please #freejussie.”


Here is her full post (below):

Henson is not the only person speaking out about Smollett’s situation, either. The actor’s family has come forward with new statements over the weekend, as well.

Jurnee Smollett, Jussie’s 35-year-old sister, posted an image of that same “#FreeJussie” hashtag as Henson (above) on her own Instagram account this past weekend. Along with it, the Birds of Prey star wrote:

“Black Americans are incarcerated in state prisons at nearly five times the rate of White Americans. Jussie is innocent. And… you don’t have to believe in his innocence to believe he should be free. #FreeJussie #StopLockingUpOurPeople.”

And Jussie’s brother, Jocqui Smollett, was there to show support online, too.

In an Instagram video posted over the weekend, Jocqui joined the chorus of voices backing the imprisoned actor, speaking bluntly and acknowledging Jussie’s comments about his mental health following the sentencing hearing:

“What’s very concerning is that there was a note attached to the paperwork today, and it said on the front of his jail cell … that he is at risk of self-harm. I want to just make it clear to folks that he is in no way shape or form at risk to self-harm and he wants to let folks know that, that he is very stable, he is very strong, he is very healthy and ready to take on the challenge that ultimately has been put up against him. This is not right. This is complete lack of justice. It’s angering, it’s an outrage.”

Here is Jocqui’s full video, posted via Jussie’s own IG account:

After the sentencing hearing took place late last week, Cook County Jail officials confirmed to the media that Jussie is in protective custody because of his high-profile status. However, jail officials explained that solitary confinement was abolished at the jail in 2016, and Smollett has “substantial time” outside of his cell with the ability to “use the telephone, watch television, and interact with staff,” per Page Six.

In sum, Smollett was found guilty on five counts of felony disorderly conduct following an eight-day trial which covered the events of the staged assault that took place back in 2019. He is now scheduled to serve out his prison sentence before being released later this year.

[Image via Nicky Nelson/WENN]

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Mar 14, 2022 10:10am PDT