For the want of a nail the shoe was lost,
For the want of a shoe the horse was lost,
For the want of a horse the rider was lost,
For the want of a rider the battle was lost,
For the want of a battle the kingdom was lost,
And all for the want of a horseshoe-nail.
The proverb above, penned long ago by Benjamin Franklin, tells us how an initial loss of a relatively minor item can lead to a series of losses having ever-increasing impact, ultimately resulting in a much greater loss. Ironically, it was the “want” of a minor item by “hate crime” hoaxer Jussie Smollett – a Subway sandwich – that proved to be his undoing.
Smollett – a black actor on the television program “Empire” – gained national attention on Jan. 29, 2019, when he claimed he was attacked in the dead of the night while walking down a Chicago street at 2 a.m. after buying a Subway sandwich. He described his two attackers as white, wearing ski masks and red hats and shouting out “This is MAGA country.” He claimed they also carried a rope, tied to form a noose, which they placed around his neck.
After the attack, Smollett returned to his apartment and called police. When they arrived, the actor was still wearing the noose.
Police rounded up the film from numerous cameras along Smollett’s route home, including the location of the attack as well as his return to his apartment. It is estimated between 24-26 officers were involved in investigating the crime, spending more than 3,000 hours doing so with at least half that time dedicated to reviewing surveillance footage.
While officers kept an open mind during the investigation, there were clearly issues that jumped out at them. The early morning hours of Jan. 29 was one of the coldest days of the year, raising the question how someone even motivated by racial hatred could be out looking for victims. Additionally, why would anyone go out to get a sandwich at such a time and in freezing weather?
However, what undoubtedly was most intriguing was that Smollett returned to his apartment with his sandwich still completely intact. Had there been an attack, wouldn’t the sandwich have somehow been jostled about, thrown to the ground, stepped on or otherwise damaged? Yet Smollett’s sandwich survived unscathed. And, wouldn’t a victim who had just been mugged be eager to depart very quickly rather than lingering to retrieve a sandwich? It was subsequently acknowledged the sandwich became a key to solving the case.
Traditionally, detectives follow investigations to wherever the evidence leads. Any victim of such an attack, having a keen interest in ensuring those responsible were caught, would fully cooperate. They would recognize that investigators have an obligation to examine all possibilities, including any evidence absolving the victim’s participation in a possible hoax. In this vein, Smollett was asked to submit his cellphone for examination; however, he quickly became less cooperative.
As more and more evidence pointed to a Smollett hoax, especially after two brothers who were friends of the actor admitted to being hired to stage the attack, a real noose began tightening around him as a suspect rather than a victim. Video even showed Smollett’s car driving by the scene of the attack a few days beforehand as if conducting reconnaissance of the attack site.
Smollett was ultimately convicted on five of six counts of felony disorderly conduct – a charge applied to filing fake police reports under Illinois law. Although he faced a possible three-year prison sentence, Smollett received a 150-day jail sentence, along with 30 months probation, and was ordered to pay $120,000 in restitution plus a $25,000 fine.
Smollett never was willing to acknowledge responsibility for the hoax. At his sentencing hearing, the judge dressed Smollett down for an hour, describing him as a despicable person who divided America even more during a difficult time of racial tension. He added that Smollett’s “arrogant” and “narcissistic” behavior damaged the integrity of claims made by real hate crime victims.
Smollett’s family, operating his Instagram account, still seek to foment racial tensions by claiming his attackers were white and promoting the outrageous suggestion, “You don’t have to believe in his innocence to believe he should be free.”
Sadly, according to a former Chicago police chief, Smollett could have easily avoided all this with a mere slap on the hand had he simply admitted lying to police when the investigation’s evidence pointed to the actor.
Chicago is an historically high-crime area – one that has become more so after liberals began their “defund the police” initiative. It has created a shortage of police as many have resigned, recognizing the greater risks being placed upon them. Hoaxes like Smollett’s tie up Chicago’s very limited police assets at a time more law enforcement is needed. The Chicago Police Department is now suing him to recoup the estimated $130,000 it spent investigating the hoax.
Despite the racial hoax he conducted, Smollett demonstrated no remorse at sentencing and, in fact, only embarrassed himself further by making several outbursts claiming his innocence despite the overwhelming evidence that convicted him. Still endeavoring to play the race card up to the end, he contended the only reason he received jail time was because he is black. After only one week in jail, he was released, pending an appeal, after signing a $150,000 recognizance bond that did not require him to post any money.
Allegedly, Smollett’s motivation for the hoax was to entice more pay from his “Empire” producers. Having now lost employment and faced with payments of fines, restitution, continuing legal fees and with possibly even more restitution payments to follow, what Smollett hoped would bring financial reward has had a reverse impact. Sadly, for want of personal gain, he had no concerns about contributing to America’s racial divide.
Ironically, in the end, a racial hoax was lost, all for the want of a Subway sandwich.