Everybody has an opinion on Jussie Smollett after he was charged on Thursday with disorderly conduct and filing a false police report. Mark O’Mara, the lawyer who successfully defended George Zimmerman in a murder trial for the killing of Trayvon Martin, said Thursday night that if Smollett lied, the actor “set the civil rights movement back a decade.”
“If he did what is alleged to have been done, then he set back the Civil Rights movement a decade or more because of the way he sort of, misused it,” O’Mara said on “CNN Tonight” with Don Lemon. “But we are far from that.”
He did add, “So, he is presumed innocent. And that presumption of innocence never goes away until a jury, when they hear all the facts, and we haven’t heard any facts yet, quite honestly, and they apply the law properly and apply it to the proper standard, then the presumption goes away.”
Smollett, of course, does not have the ability to set back the civil rights movement. That line was disrespectful, especially on Black History Month.
Smollett lawyers released the following statement on Thursday after his arrest:
“Today we witnessed an organized law enforcement spectacle that has no place in the American legal system. The presumption of innocence, a bedrock in the search for justice, was trampled upon at the expense of Mr. Smollett and notably, on the eve of a Mayoral election. Mr. Smollett is a young man of impeccable character and integrity who fiercely and solemnly maintains his innocence and feels betrayed by a system that apparently wants to skip due process and proceed directly to sentencing.”
On Jan. 29, while walking to a subway, Smollett claimed two men yelled racial and homophobic slurs at him, investigators told The Hollywood Reporter. They allegedly punched and poured bleach on him while one of the suspects put a rope around his neck. As they fled the scene, Smollett told police they said, “This is MAGA country.”
Threatening letters directed at Smollett were reportedly sent to Fox Studios in Chicago on Jan. 22. The cutout letters read, “You will die black f**.” See below:
The 36-year-old actor went on national TV to say he was not lying.
“For me, the main thing was the idea that I somehow switched up my story, you know? And that somehow maybe I added a little extra trinket, you know, of the MAGA thing,” he told Robin Roberts on “Good Morning America” earlier this month. “I didn’t need to add anything like that. They called me a f—-, they called me a n—-. There’s no which way you cut it. I don’t need some MAGA hat as the cherry on top of some racist sundae.”
Cops have claimed that Smollett staged the attack. After his arrest, Smollett was released on $100,000 bond.