Jussie Smollett’s “unjust” sentencing is proof of the “legal vigilantism” of the “perverted” U.S. justice system where those in power can jail a man because of his skin color, according to a recent Washington Post piece by MSNBC analyst Paul Butler who argued that “sending a Black gay man to jail for lying about being attacked” sends a message to hate crime victims that they may suffer incarceration “if authorities don’t believe their stories.”

In an essay published in the Washington Post on Wednesday titled “Why jailing Jussie Smollett is unjust,” MSNBC  legal analyst and Georgetown law professor Paul Butler attacked the American justice system, which he claimed is “out to get” the disgraced 39-year-old actor because of his race despite the author admitting he did not believe the gay actor.

Smollett was sentenced to jail time in Chicago last week, three months after he was found guilty of five counts of felony disorderly conduct for filing a false police report after he hired two brothers from Nigeria to stage a fake hate crime.

The actor had claimed he was physically attacked by two men wearing MAGA hats who put a rope around his neck, poured bleach on him, and shouted racial and homophobic slurs at him, before eventually yelling, “This is MAGA country!” in reference to former President Donald Trump’s campaign slogan.

“I don’t believe Jussie Smollett but I recognize when a Black man gets railroaded through a justice system that is out to get him,” Butler wrote. 

“A rich entitled actor is hardly the most sympathetic face of reform,” he added. “Still, Smollett’s case demonstrates that when powerful elites decide they want a Black man locked up, nothing and nobody — not even the elected prosecutor — will stop them.”

After charges against Smollett were dropped in exchange for community service and the forfeiting of a $10,000 bond, the author claims “that wasn’t enough for many White people — and some Black people as well — who wanted a pound of Smollett’s flesh” and revived the case.


Actor Jussie Smollett leaves Cook County jail after posting bond in February 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. (GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP/NUCCIO DINUZZO)

As a result of what the author terms a “bizarre procedure,” Smollett was re-prosecuted and convicted of five counts of disorderly conduct, and sentenced to 150 days in jail.

“So a White male lawyer in private practice was handed more control over a criminal case than the Black female prosecutor elected to make those kinds of decisions,” he wrote. 

The Associated Press

In this Feb. 23, 2019, file photo, Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx speaks to reporters at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse in Chicago. (Ashlee Rezin/Chicago Sun-Times via AP)

However, Butler argues, incarcerating the former Empire actor for falsely reporting a hate crime “has nothing to do with protecting actual victims of racist and homophobic violence.” 

“Rather, it’s legal vigilantism that sends a stern warning about the limits of criminal justice reform: If those in power want a Black man locked up, they will find a way to do it,” he wrote.

Attorney Gloria Schmidt, left, and brothers Olabinjo Osundairo, center, and Abimbola Osundairo arrive at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse in Chicago on Monday, Feb. 24, 2020 where actor Jussie Smollett made an appearance on a new set of charges alleging that he lied to police about being targeted in a racist and homophobic attack in downtown Chicago early last year. The brothers claim Smollett hired them to stage an attack on him. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

The decision to “throw the book” at Smollett, Butler claims, undermined both “the legitimacy of the system” as well as “public safety.”

“Sending a Black gay man to jail for lying about being attacked will not encourage hate crime victims to come forward,” he wrote. “Instead, it sends the message that they, rather than their assailants, are subject to being incarcerated if authorities don’t believe their stories.”

Instead, Butler suggests the police should have offered the most “victim-sympathetic response” by merely expressing “disappointment” in Smollett’s crime while informing the “community” that “other allegations would receive the same intense response that Smollett’s had.”

“Except that no one would actually believe that,” he added, “particularly not those minorities who seldom receive equal protection of law.”

The essay concludes by describing Smollett as “just another Black man serving time — in a system more perverted than his crime.”

On Wednesday, Smollett was released from jail on bond pending his conviction appeal. The move comes following his lawyers filing for his release as he appeals his conviction.

Last week, a report by TMZ claimed Smollett believes the primary reason he was sentenced to jail is due to the color of his skin and that his sentencing is more evidence of “systemic racism” in the judicial system.

Kim Foxx, the Cook County prosecutor who nearly let Smollett walk scot-free, said the actor’s criminal conviction and subsequent sentencing was an example of “mob justice.”

On Monday, Black Lives Matter (BLM) co-founder and “trained Marxist” Patrisse Cullors urged the public to contact Smollett’s jail and demand his freedom.

“We need folks to call the jail and check up on him, but also say that you think he should be freed,” Cullors said. “And the last thing is, we need folks to challenge the misinformation and disinformation around this case. That’s so critical.”

Cullors went on to claim that “What happened to Jussie could happen to any of us, and it’s completely unacceptable.”

Last month, a Washington Post piece claimed the killers of Ahmaud Arbery “stand in for millions of Americans” nationwide who believe that skin color deems one “less worthy,” while accusing many Americans of denying and downplaying rampant racism throughout the country.

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