Jussie Smollett Breaks Social Media Silence, Four Months After Alleged Hate Crime Attack
"So much pride," Empire actor Jussie Smollett wrote on Instagram on June 10
Jussie Smollett returned to social media on Monday for his first post since Jan. 29, the same day he alleged he was the victim of a hate crime that police later accused him of staging.
The 36-year-old actor shared a clip on Instagram of Moonlight‘s Oscar-winning screenwriter Tarrell Alvin McCraney discussing his acclaimed play Choir Boy at Sunday’s 2019 Tony Awards, captioning the video “So much #PRIDE.”
McCraney’s play — which ran on Broadway from January through March and was nominated for best play at Sunday’s awards — follows an effeminate black queer kid at the fictional Charles R. Drew Prep School for Boys, who takes the lead in the school’s legendary gospel choir but finds himself at odds with many of his classmates.
“His community accepted his gift but diminished his light,” McCraney explained in his speech. “The bodies that uphold the great legacy of spirituals are often black and queer. When will we love all of them for who they are, not just for what they can do?”
Smollett tagged McCraney in his post, adding two prayer emoji. He turned commenting off for the post.
The actor, who faced intense scrutiny and backlash, had pleaded not guilty to allegations that he lied to police when he said he was attacked in what authorities later claimed was a staged incident to draw attention to himself. At the end of March, all charges against Smollett were suddenly dropped.
The Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office has not, however, fully retreated from its initial decision to bring charges against him or otherwise addressed whether prosecutors still believe he staged the attack, saying they “stand by the Chicago Police Department’s investigation and our approval of charges.”
Smollett’s attorneys released a statement to PEOPLE after the charges were dropped, saying, “Today, all criminal charges against Jussie Smollett were dropped and his record has been wiped clean of the filing of this tragic complaint against him. Jussie was attacked by two people he was unable to identify on January 29th. He was a victim who was vilified and made to appear as a perpetrator as a result of false and inappropriate remarks made to the public causing an inappropriate rush to judgment.”
“Jussie and many others were hurt by these unfair and unwarranted actions,” the statement continued. “This entire situation is a reminder that there should never be an attempt to prove a case in the court of public opinion. This is wrong. It is a reminder that the victim, in this case Jussie, deserves dignity and respect. Dismissal of charges against the victim in this case was the only just result.”
In April, Smollett was sued by the City of Chicago after it allegedly spent more than $130,000 “in overtime costs to investigate” his alleged attack, according to the lawsuit. Smollett’s attorney did not respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.