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New Footage Released in Jussie Smollet Case

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  • Chicago Police released footage in the Jussie Smollett case, including footage of them arriving at his apartment after the alleged attack, which shows the actor still wearing a rope around his neck.
  • A special prosecutor was appointed on Friday to look into the case and look into a previous prosecutors’ decision to drop charges against Smollett.
  • Though Smollett has maintained his innocence, Chicago Police have been clear that they believe he staged a hate crime against himself in January.
  • Due to the recent appointment of a special prosecutor, Smollett could be charged in the case again.

Chicago police released video footage on Monday from the Jussie Smollett case, including body cam footage of their response after the incident. 

The footage, which was obtained by local media outlets, runs up to 70 hours long. Smollett, an actor best known for his role on Empire, was accused of staging a hate crime against himself in January. 

In the clip showing police arriving at his apartment after the alleged attack, a man who identifies himself as Smollett’s creative director greets the police and takes them upstairs. He quickly tells the police who Smollett is. 

“He, he is like a star,” he says. “He works on the show Empire…he doesn’t want this to be a big deal, you see what I’m saying.”

Once police enter the apartment, Smollett can be seen with a rope on his neck. Officers ask if he wants to remove it.

Yeah, I do,” Smollett responds. “I just wanted you to see.”

He then removes the rope and tells officers bleach was poured on him. When he learns that he is being recorded, he requests for filming to stop.

Officers also released videos from before and after the alleged attack. One video depicts the Osundairo brothers, the original suspects in the case, in a cab on the way to the alleged scene. Another video shows them fleeing a nearby area.

According to the Chicago Tribune, police also released documents about the case, including text messages between one of the Osundairo brothers and Smollett. The Tribune says that the messages show that Smollett may have reached out to the brothers for drugs on a regular basis. 

Previous document dumps have also shown Smollett texting the Osundairo brothers “Might need your help on the low” prior to the alleged attack.

Special Prosecutor Appointed

This footage dump comes several days after a special prosecutor was appointed to look into Smollett’s case. This opens the door for Smollett to be charged in relation to the incident again.  On Friday, a Cook County judge wrote a 21-page opinion about his decision. 

“The unprecedented irregularities identified in this case warrants the appointment of independent counsel to restore the public’s confidence in the integrity of our criminal justice system,” he wrote. 

Smollett was indicted on 16 criminal counts. Charges were later dropped against him in a reversal that angered the Chicago Police Department. The prosecutor will look specifically into the decision to drop all charges against Smollett. They will also look into Cook County State Attorney Kim Foxx’s recusal from the case, and her choice to appoint one of her aides as a replacement. 

Chief Communications Officer for Chicago Police tweeted about the special prosecutor and maintained their belief in Smollett’s guilt. 

Background on Smollett Case

In January, Smollett claimed that two masked men attacked him by yelling racial and homophobic slurs, tying a rope around his neck, pouring bleach on him, and yelling “this is MAGA country.” When police identified and interrogated two suspects, the Osandairo brothers, they told officers they were paid by Smollett to stage the attack. 

Smollett was charged with several felony counts, including disorderly conduct and filing a false police report. He turned himself into authorities, but charges were dropped on March 26. He had to pay $10,000 in bond to the city of Chicago. 

Smollett maintains his innocence in the case. However, Chicago Police are suing the actor, and the Osandairo brothers are suing his attorneys. He will not appear in the next season of Empire

See what others are saying: (Chicago Tribune) (CBS Chicago) (ABC News)

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Chris Pratt Denies Association With Hillsong Church: “I’ve Never Actually Been”

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The church has been accused of having anti-LGBTQ ties, something Pratt has taken a hit for. 


Pratt Addresses Hillsong Controversy 

After several years of facing criticism for his alleged ties to the controversial Hillsong Church, actor Chris Pratt said he has “never actually been” to the church and is “not a religious person.”

The Hillsong Church has been condemned for being anti-LGBTQ. The issue received increased attention in 2019 when actor Elliot Page tweeted, “If you are a famous actor and you belong to an organization that hates a certain group of people, don’t be surprised if someone simply wonders why it’s not addressed.” 

“Being anti LGBTQ is wrong, there aren’t two sides,” he continued.

At the time, Pratt responded to the allegations by saying that “nothing could be further from the truth” and that he believes “everyone is entitled to love who they want.” He doubled down on his denial in a profile published Tuesday in Men’s Health.

 “I never went to Hillsong. I’ve never actually been to Hillsong,” he told the outlet. “I don’t know anyone from that church.”

Instead, Pratt said he attends Zoe Church in Los Angeles, though not exclusively. According to Men’s Health, Zoe Church is not without its issues. The church was founded by a pastor who produced a film that equated “sexual brokeness” to “same-sex attraction.” Other outlets have also described it as a Hillsong affiliate. 

Pratt faced his biggest wave of backlash in 2020 when Internet memes declared him the “worst” Chris compared to other actors with the same first name, including Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, and Chris Pine. A slew of celebrities quickly came to Pratt’s defense, arguing the criticism was unjustifiably mean. Their speedy responses only heightened the online conversation and many of the celebrities who spoke out were eventually mocked for doing so. 

Pratt Says He is Not Religious

As for why the Internet has become increasingly anti-Pratt, his alleged association to Hillsong was a major factor. Some also speculated he was a supporter of Donald Trump as he did not join his “Avengers” co-stars for a Joe Biden fundraiser, though Pratt is not usually politically outspoken in either direction.

Pratt believes the backlash against him started when he gave a speech at the MTV Movie Awards in 2018 where he said, “God is real. God loves you. God wants the best for you.” He understands why those remarks may have rubbed people the wrong way. 

“Maybe it was hubris. For me to stand up on the stage and say the things that I said, I’m not sure I touched anybody,” he told Men’s Health. “Religion has been oppressive as fuck for a long time. I didn’t know that I would kind of become the face of religion when really I’m not a religious person.”

He went on to explain that in his eyes, there is a difference between adhering to certain customs and believing in God versus using God to control and harm people and justify hatred.

“The evil that’s in the heart of every single man has glommed on to the back of religion and come along for the ride,” he said.

See what others are saying: (Men’s Health) (The AV Club) (People)

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Jodie Sweetin Releases Statement After Getting Pushed By Officers at Pro-Choice Protest: “This Will Not Deter Us”

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“Love everyone out there in the streets fighting for what’s right,” she wrote on Instagram.


Actress Pushed at Protest

After viral footage showed Jodie Sweetin getting pushed to the ground by officers with the Los Angeles Police Department while attending a pro-choice protest, the “Full House” actress said demonstraters “will continue fighting” for their rights. 

Sweetin was attending a protest off the 101 freeway on Saturday following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Photojournalist Mike Ade, who captured the video, said the actress was “trying to lead a group of peaceful protestors away from the freeway” when officers pushed her. Sweetin was standing on a curb when she was pushed and fell down on the cement road. Ade wrote that she was “fortunately…okay.”

Ade shared a handful of other videos depicting officers using similar tactics on other protesters. As these videos started circulating online, many became outraged by the LAPD’s response to the protests.

Sweetin Addresses Incident

Following the incident, Sweetin released a statement where she said the fight against the court’s decision is not over. 

“I’m extremely proud of the hundreds of people who showed up yesterday to exercise their First Amendment rights and take immediate action to peacefully protest the giant injustices that have been delivered from our Supreme Court,” Sweetin said. “Our activism will continue until our voices are heard and action is taken. This will not deter us, we will continue fighting for our rights. We are not free until ALL of us are free.”

Sweetin also shared footage of the incident and other clips of officers clashing with protesters on her Instagram story. She cheered protesters in a comment on a video of the push shared by a social justice group called The Progressivists.

“Love everyone out there in the streets fighting for what’s right,” she wrote.

According to a statement obtained by Deadline, the LAPD is looking into the matter. 

“The LAPD is aware of a video clip of a woman being pushed to the ground by officers not allowing the group to enter on foot and overtake the 101 freeway,” the statement said. “The force used will be evaluated against the LAPD’s policy and procedure.”

See what others are saying: (Deadline) (Rolling Stone) (The Hollywood Reporter)

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Dave Chappelle Decides Against Having Former High School’s Theater Named After Him

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“The idea that my name will be turned into an instrument of someone else’s perceived oppression is untenable to me,” the comedian reportedly said.


Theater Named Announced

Comedian Dave Chappelle opted on Monday to not have the theater at his alma mater high school named after him, according to a report from The Washington Post

The Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Washington D.C. previously planned to name its theater in honor of Chappelle, as he is a distinct alum and donor. While Chappelle formerly said such a gesture would be “the most significant honor of [his] life,” he announced during Monday’s naming ceremony that it would bear a different title. 

The school’s theater will instead be called the Theater for Artistic Freedom and Expression. 

A naming ceremony was initially set to take place in November, but was postponed after the comedian began facing backlash for transphobic jokes in his Netflix special “The Closer.”

Among other things, he said he was “Team TERF,” which stands for trans-exclusionary radical feminist. He also made a joke about Caitlyn Jenner and remarks comparing the genitalia of transgender women to Beyond and Impossible meat.

The jokes embroiled Chappelle in controversy, and reports claimed that some students at Duke Ellington took issue with the comments. When Chappelle ended up visiting the school amid the scandal, Politico reported that one student told the comedian, “I’m 16 and I think you’re childish, you handled it like a child.”

Chappelle Defends Controversial Special 

According to The Post, Chappelle said the criticism against him “sincerely” hurt, but added that “the Ellington Family is my family.” He claimed he did not want the theater being named after him to distract students. 

“The idea that my name will be turned into an instrument of someone else’s perceived oppression is untenable to me,” he said according to Josh Rogin, a columnist for the outlet.

Rogin also tweeted that Chappelle took time out of the ceremony to slam the criticisms levied against him, accusing upset students of promoting someone else’s agenda. 

“These kids didn’t understand that they were instruments of oppression,” he reportedly said. 

“You cannot report on an artist’s work and remove artistic nuance,” Chappelle continued while denouncing the press coverage of his Netflix special. 

According to David Frum, a staff writer for The Atlantic who attended the ceremony, Chappelle suggested he was open to potentially adding his name to the theater at a later date when the community is ready. 

See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (Variety) (The Atlantic)

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