Jussie Smollett has been found guilty by a jury of staging a hate-crime hoax, but as far as Black Lives Matter is concerned, the entire trial was a “white supremacist charade.”
The left-wing group’s credibility was called into question after Melina Abdullah, director of BLM Grassroots and cofounder of BLM Los Angeles, came out in support of Smollett and accused Chicago police of lying in a post on the Black Lives Matter Global Network website.
She doubled down Thursday following Smollett’s conviction on five felony counts stemming from making false reports to police in early 2019, tweeting, “And I will continue to say it/#PoliceLie #CopsLie/We love you Jussie!”
Her pro-Smollett take was condemned by Black public figures and others on the right as either delusional or dishonest, given the overwhelming nature of the evidence against the 39-year-old actor, who has maintained his innocence.
“The national spokespeople for BLM are simply on [another] planet. Exhibit Z: they still (claim to) believe one of the most obvious hoaxes in recent memory,” tweeted podcast host Coleman Hughes.
Civil-rights veteran Robert Woodson, founder of the Woodson Center, tweeted Thursday that the “BLM organization continues to be a disgrace” and referred to the $90 million in donations reaped by the national foundation in 2020.
“Just think: BLM hustled MILLIONS of dollars in corporate donations last year,” tweeted Mr. Woodson. “Employees and shareholders of those companies should demand that money back!”
Radio talk-show host Leo Terrell, a civil-rights lawyer who supported President Trump in 2020, called Smollett “guilty as sin” ahead of Thursday’s verdict, adding that “Black Lives Matter has no credibility.”
“This Black Lives Matter nonsense is nonsense. They carry no weight,” he said on Fox’s “Hannity.” “You cannot trust the police, you can’t trust Black police officers, Black chiefs of police, you can’t trust the police? That race card has left the station 50 years ago.”
He cited the growing presence of Black big-city mayors, police chiefs and officers and accused BLM of “trying to distract from what the issue is here.”
“What Black Lives [Matter] will do is throw him a lifeline — well, I’ve got news for you. He’s going to sink,” Mr. Terrell said of Smollett.
Ms. Abdullah, a professor in the Pan-African Studies department at California State University Los Angeles, advocated in her statement for the abolition movement, which calls for defunding the police and eliminating prisons.
“It’s not about a trial or a verdict decided in a white supremacist charade, it’s about how we treat our community when corrupt systems are working to devalue their lives,” she said. “In an abolitionist society, this trial would not be taking place, and our communities would not have to fight and suffer to prove our worth.”
She called policing an “irredeemable institution,” adding that “Police lie and Chicago police lie especially.”
“In our commitment to abolition, we can never believe police, especially the Chicago Police Department (CPD) over Jussie Smollett, a Black man who has been courageously present, visible, and vocal in the struggle for Black freedom,” said Ms. Abdullah.
American Enterprise Institute senior fellow Christina Hoff Sommers called her take “[d]eranged,” while author Kat Rosenfield said she was “really curious about the thought process that leads a movement with as much momentum as BLM to squander it on something like this.”
Wilfred Reilly, a Kentucky State University professor and author of “Hate Crime Hoax,” said Thursday that those inclined to support BLM “should read up on what the national movement actually says.”
“They just came out in support of Juicy Smollett, and basically stated they would never believe a cop over a criminal,” tweeted Mr. Reilly.
Carol Swain, a retired Vanderbilt University professor, called the Smollett verdict “a major victory for the Rule of Law and a huge defeat for Black Lives Matter and the race card.”
By backing Smollett, Black Lives Matter also found itself on a political island, given that prominent Democrats and liberals who initially rushed to his defense after he reported being attacked in January 2019 have since gone mum.
Blogger Tim Urban, who runs the popular Wait But Why website, said BLM’s pro-Smollett stance could backfire on the progressive movement at large unless activists push back.
“Flat-Earther-level denial from BLM on the Jussie Smollett case,” tweeted Mr. Urban. “Progressive activists should be vocal that organizations that take stances like this don’t represent them. If they don’t, it hinders the ability of progressive activism to win trust and build broad coalitions.”
Smollett, a former costar on “Empire,” could face up to three years in prison for the five convictions on felony disorderly conduct. Prosecutors said he staged a racist attack on himself. A post-trial hearing is scheduled for Jan. 27 in Cook County Circuit Court.