AceShowbiz - Taraji P. Henson, Samuel L. Jackson and more stars have shown their support for Jussie Smollett after he's sentenced to 150 days in jail for his role in creating a hate crime hoax. Taking to her Instagram page on Sunday, March 13, "The Karate Kid" actress likened his former "Empire" co-star to lynching victim Emmett Till when calling to free the actor.
"I am not here to debate you on his innocence but we can agree that the punishment does not fit the crime," Taraji wrote along with a picture of the message #FreeJussie. She continued, "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. No one was hurt or killed during Jussie's ordeal."
She went on arguing, "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."
Meanwhile, Samuel and his wife, actress LaTanya Richardson, have reportedly penned a letter to Judge James Linn not to give Jussie jail time. "My husband, actor Samuel L. Jackson, and I have known Jussie since he was a baby living down the street from us in New York City. We have often broken bread with this young man as we discussed the right and wrong ways to live," she reportedly wrote of the disgraced actor.
"It is incredulous to Sam and to me that this entire criminal situation even exists," she added. Echoing Taraji's sentiment, LaTanya claimed, "Jussie has already suffered a great deal of punishment, as this situation has destroyed his career and impugned his reputation."
Actress Alfre Woodard allegedly also wrote a letter with a similar plea. "My dear friend Jussie Smollett has been convicted of a nonviolent crime...," she wrote in her own letter. "He has already paid a personal and professional price that few in real power have even for crimes against the health and safety of millions... Through it all, Jussie has stood like the good man I know him to be. If he is incarcerated, I fear for his safety."
Meanwhile, Jussie's sister Jurnee Smollett took to Instagram on Saturday to ask to #FreeJussie. "Black Americans are incarcerated in state prisons at nearly five times the rate of White Americans," she pointed out, before declaring, "Jussie is innocent."
"And...you don't have to believe in his innocence to believe he should be free," she demanded, adding the hashtags "#FreeJussie #StopLockingUpOurPeople."
In December 2021, Jussie was found guilty of five of the six counts of felony disorderly conduct pertaining to making four false police reports relating to his hate crime hoax. On Thursday, Judge Linn handed down an overall sentence of 30 months probation, $120,106 in restitution to the Windy City, and a further $25,000 fine. He also ruled that Jussie will spend the first 150 days of his probation in the Cook County Jail.
Upon learning of his sentence, the 39-year-old star went off on the judge, maintaining his innocence and declaring his concern for his own safety. "I am not suicidal. I am innocent," he yelled. "If anything happens to me when I'm in there, I did not do it to myself and you must all know that."
Jussie was taken into custody at the Cook County Jail on the same day and has been placed in protective custody. His brother Jocqui Smollet later denied rumors suggesting that his sibling was "at risk of self harm."
"So Jussie is currently in a psych ward at the Cook County Jail," Jocqui said in a video shared on his brother's Instagram account on Saturday. "What's very concerning - is that there was a note attached to his paperwork today …saying that he's at risk of self harm."
"I want to make it clear that he is in no way, shape, or form at risk of self harm," Jocqui emphasized. "He wants to let folks know that he is very stable, he is very strong, he is very healthy and ready to take on the challenge that... has been put up against him."
"This is not right. This is completely lack of justice," the former child actor continued. "So please, make sure you all spreading facts... We really need our people to support us."