On Saturday, “Empire” star Terrence Howard shared a video on Instagram in which co-star Jussie Smollett holds and plays with a baby on what appears to be a private jet. In the video, Smollett tickles the child, asks how many teeth he has, and calls him a “sweet baby.”
“All your lil homies got you… We love the hell outta you,” the post reads.
As of publication, the video has been watched more than 421,000 times, and features approximately 6,400 comments, many of which are supportive of either Howard’s post or Smollett himself:
“We love him so much….we got his back #IStandWithJussie”
“THAT’S WHAT FRIENDSHIP IS ALL ABOUT. Friends don’t give a [middle finger emoji] about the situation. It’s about supporting you, whether s*** is questionable or not! Good job T”
“Everybody makes mistakes. I’m sure he’ll learn from this one.”
Others questioned Howard’s apparent support for Smollett:
“Lol you should hold him accountable not enable the lies bro”
“I believe in forgiveness but what about accountability. If you’re truly a father figure to him then talk to him about accountability.”
According to multiple outlets, Howard also wrote the following on his Instagram:
Sorry you feel that way but that’s the only Jussie I know. The Jussie I know could never even conceive of something so unconscious and ugly. His innocence or judgment is not for any of us to decide. Stay in your lane and my lane is empathy and love and compassion for someone I’ve called my son for five years. It’s God’s job to judge and it’s ours to love and hope, especially for those that we claim to have loved.
On Wednesday evening, the Chicago Police Department reported that Smollett had been charged with disorderly conduct and filing a false police report, and on Thursday morning, Smollett turned himself over to police. The actor was later released from jail after posting bond.
On Thursday, Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson held a press conference during which he castigated Smollett:
This announcement today recognizes that “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett took advantage of the pain and anger of racism to promote his career.
I’m left hanging my head and asking why. Why would anyone, especially an African American man, use the symbolism of a noose to make false accusations? How could someone look at the hatred and suffering associated with that symbol and see an opportunity to manipulate that symbol to further his own public profile? How can an individual who’s been embraced by the city of Chicago turn around and slap everyone in this city in the face by making these false claims?
Bogus police reports cause real harm. They do harm to every legitimate victim who is in need of support by police and investigators, as well as the citizens of this city.
Johnson then detailed Smollett’s alleged crimes, stating that the actor was not happy with his salary, so he paid two men approximately $3,500 to help him stage a hate crime on January 29.
Johnson concluded by saying that he’ll “continue to pray for this troubled young man who resorted to both drastic and illegal tactics to gain attention.”