What BLM Has Said In Support Of Jussie Smollett

Actor Jussie Smollett was sentenced to 150 days in jail on Thursday after being found guilty of faking a racist, homophobic hate crime against himself in 2019 but he has not lost the support of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement.

The social justice organization publicly supported Smollett after his criminal trial started in December 2021 and reiterated its support after the actor's sentencing. Dr. Melina Abdullah, Director of BLM Grassroots and Co-Founder of BLM Los Angeles, told TMZ that BLM will continue to support Smollett.

On Thursday, in the character witnesses during Smollett's sentencing, a letter written by BLM to Judge James Linn called for an "alternative to incarceration."

"Black Lives Matter stands in strong support of an alternative to incarceration sentence for Jussie Smollett," the letter stated. "We applaud your long-held practice of imposing alternative to incarceration sentences for virtually all class four felonies. Such is Mr. Smollett's, and encourage you to continue this practice in this case."

The letter stressed Smollet not being a risk and offered other possible punishments for his crime.

"We know that second chance probation, regular probation, and deferred prosecution are all options," the letter stated. "As we contemplate what creates a truly safe world, we know that Mr. Smollett's case involves no drugs, no theft, no sex, no property damage, and no physical injury to anyone other than the defendant."

The letter listed organizations and social-justice causes that Smollett has personally and financially supported, which included several organizations that provide resources to people with HIV/AIDS, Black education organizations, and nonprofits for families who have lost children to gun violence.

"In short, Mr. Smollett has demonstrated a long-standing commitment to helping others. Incarcerating Mr. Smollett would be solely punitive in nature. Mr. Smollett does not pose a threat to anyone. Thus, we respectfully request that this court impose a sentence that is an alternative to incarceration," the letter ended, having been signed by Abdullah.

Before he was found guilty on December 9, Abdullah was critical of Chicago police and the justice system amid Smollet's trial.

"As abolitionists, we approach situations of injustice with love and align ourselves with our community. Because we got us. So let's be clear: we love everybody in our community. 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," the statement read. "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. Instead, we find ourselves, once again, being forced to put our lives and our value in the hands of judges and juries operating in a system that is designed to oppress us, while continuing to face a corrupt and violent police department, which has proven time and again to have no respect for our lives."

Abdullah called out the Chicago Police Department specifically, saying, "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. While policing at-large is an irredeemable institution, CPD is notorious for its long and deep history of corruption, racism, and brutality."

"Chicago police consistently demonstrate that they are among the worst of the worst. Police lie and Chicago police lie especially," the statement added. "Black Lives Matter will continue to work towards the abolition of police and every unjust system. We will continue to love and protect one another, and wrap our arms around those who do the work to usher in Black freedom and, by extension, freedom for everyone else."

After the sentencing, in which Smollett received 150 days in county jail followed by 30 months probation, as well as a $120,106 in restitution to the city and a $25,000 fine, Abdullah tweeted her lasting support for the actor.

"As #JussieSmollett left the courtroom, remanded into custody, he did so with a raised fist declaring "I am not suicidal. If something happens to me I didn't do it to myself." Raised fists back, Brother. Folks on the inside, please protect our folks," Abdullah wrote.

Jussie Smollett Sentenced For Disorderly Conduct Convictions
Actor Jussie Smollett, who was found guilty of lying to police about a hate crime he reported in 2019, has had the continuous support of social-justice organization Black Lives Matter. In this photo, actor Jussie Smollett is led out of the courtroom after being sentenced at the Leighton Criminal Court Building on March 10, 2022 in Chicago, Illinois. Brian Cassella-Pool/Getty Images