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Jussie Smollett Indicted Again Over Alleged Hate Crime Hoax

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  • Actor Jussie Smollett was indicted again on six counts of disorderly conduct for falsifying a police report. 
  • This comes almost a year after he was indicted on 16 counts of the same charge, which prosecutors abruptly dropped.
  • In January 2019, Smollett claimed he was the victim of a brutal homophobic and racist hate crime. After Chicago police investigated, they claimed the actor had actually staged the attack himself. 
  • These new indictments come from prosecutor Dan Webb, who was appointed to look into Smollett’s case as well as the way the Cook County State’s Attorney Office handled it.

New Indictments

Actor Jussie Smollett is facing six new indictments of disorderly conduct for falsifying a police report for allegedly staging a fake hate crime in Chicago in 2019.

These indictments come after special prosecutor Dan Webb spent six months investigating the case. Back in August a judge appointed Webb to look into Smollett, who was previously indicted on 16 counts of the same charge in March, only for those charges to be abruptly dropped by Cook County prosecutors. Webb was assigned to look into further prosecuting Smollett, as well as any potential mishandlings of the case by the Cook County State’s Attorney Office.

“The grand jury’s investigation revealed that Jussie Smollett planned and participated in a staged hate crime attack, and thereafter made numerous false statements to Chicago Police Department officers on multiple occasions, reporting a heinous hate crime that he, in fact, knew had not occurred,” Webb’s office wrote in a statement on Tuesday. “Therefore, Mr. Webb has determined that reasonable grounds exist to further prosecute Mr. Smollett.”

He added that further charging Smollett is “in the interest of justice.” 

Webb has not made any conclusions as to whether or not the Cook County State’s Attorney Office mishandled the case and is still investigating this aspect. The statement did note that he disagreed with their choice to drop charges. 

The Jussie Smollett Case

Back in January 2019, Smollett, who is black and gay, said that two men attacked him in a hate crime. He claimed that they yelled racist and homophobic things at him, beat him, tied a noose around him, and poured chemicals on him. After Chicago Police investigated the matter, however, they said they found Smollett actually staged the attack and hired two people to do this.

Cook County State Attorney Kim Foxx, who was assigned to oversee the case, recused herself in February before indictments were handed out. In March, Smollett was handed the 16 indictments, to which he pleaded not guilty. When they were dropped a few weeks later, he had to forfeit his $10,000 bond and do community service but did not have to admit any wrongdoing.

This news upset Chicago city officials and police, with then-Mayor Rahm Emanuel calling it “a whitewash of justice.”

The city of Chicago ended up filing a civil suit demanding that Smollett cover the $130,000 that was spent in overtime pay to investigate his report. Smollett later sued the city for malicious prosecution.

Responses

Foxx’s office released a statement disagreeing with the latest charges. Foxx faces a primary election in just a month, and her handling of the Smollett cases has been one of her campaign’s biggest hurdles. Her office believes the timing of these new charges is politically motivated. 

The Cook County State’s Attorney’s office charged Jussie Smollett with multiple counts, and today the Special Prosecutor did the same,” her office’s statement said. “What’s questionable here is the James Comey-like timing of that charging decision, just 35 days before an election, which can only be interpreted as the further politicization of the justice system.”

Smollett’s legal team also mentioned the upcoming election while expressing their disapproval of the new indictments. 

“The charges were appropriately dismissed the first time because they were not supported by the evidence,” Smollett’s attorney Tina Glandian said in a statement. “The attempt to re-prosecute Mr. Smollett one year later on the eve of the Cook County State’s Attorney election is clearly all about politics not justice.”

On the other side, when Emanuel was asked about the indictment, he told ABC7 in Chicago that the news “speaks for itself.”

The city of Chicago also released a statement of its own. They noted that the civil case against Smollett still stands.

“We look forward to reviewing the indictment and, as we have said previously, the City stands by our original complaint seeking to recover costs for Mr. Smollett’s false statements,” the city’s statement said. “We again thank the Chicago Police Department detectives for their hard work on the original investigation.”

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

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Lovers & Friends Festival Line-Up Generates Confusion and Doubt After Artists Deny Involvement

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  • The newly announced Lovers & Friends music festival has caused online confusion and controversy because some of the artists included in the lineup said they were not participating. 
  • Lil Kim called the festival fake in a now-deleted Instagram story and Mase asked for his name to be removed from the list.
  • Both T-Pain and Megan Thee Stallion were also listed on the lineup, but already have other performances booked on that day.
  • Usher and Lauryn Hill, who are both headlining acts, shared the festival on their social media pages.
  • Snoop Dogg, a promoter for the festival, made a video reaching out to Lil Kim, asking to resolve the confusion while also saying every other act was confirmed. 

Controversy Around Festival

An upcoming music festival in Los Angeles has caused confusion among fans after artists like Lil Kim, who were announced in the lineup, said they would not be attending. 

Lauryn Hill, Usher, Ludacris, Lil Jon, and TLC are set to headline the Lovers & Friends Festival on May 9. The event is being organized by Goldenvoice, the company behind festivals like Coachella and Stagecoach. The festival’s lineup also includes Nelly, Sean Paul, T-Pain, Megan Thee Stallion, Ja Rule, Lil Kim, Trina, Mase, Twista, and others.

When the festival was announced on Tuesday, many fans were excited to see this mix of nostalgic ’90s and early aughts performers along with some of today’s chart-toppers. Some of the artists, however, indicated that they were no involved with Lovers & Friends.

“This is SO FAKE! I am not a part of this,” Lil Kim wrote on her Instagram story, with the text covering a screenshot of the lineup. She has since deleted it from her page. 

A representative for Trina’s management team also tweeted that she was never contacted by a booking agent for the festival. She has since reached out via a contact email. 

Other artists have commented on posts about the Lovers & Friends fest.

“Best wishes on this show but pls take my name off this flyer,” Mase wrote in a now-removed comment on Lovers & Friends’ post.

Screenshot via Twitter: @DJHeatDC

“AIN’T NO DEPOSIT HIT MY ACCOUNT FOR THIS SHOW,” Twista wrote on the same post. In a later comment, it seemed his issue had been resolved as he said he was now “locked and loaded” to play his hits.

Screenshot via Twitter: @DJHeatDC
Screenshot via Twitter: @DJHeatDC

Others also pointed out potential conflicts for the timing of this festival. Megan Thee Stallion is already booked for Broccoli City, a festival in Washington DC that same day. T-Pain is in a similar situation, performing at the Rolling Loud festival in Miami on May 9. Broccoli City tweeted that Megan Thee Stallion would be playing both, but later deleted that post, so it is still unclear if that is actually her plan. 

Others also noted that the venue’s website has yet to list Lovers & Friends as an upcoming event. 

Confusion Spreads

The announcement was at first met with enthusiasm, and many thought the lineup was fire. But because these comments caused so much confusion, some thought it looked more like fyre.

Many called it fake, and others compared it to the infamous Fyre Festival, which gained notoriety for touting big names and a glamorous setting, only to prove to be a scam and disaster. 

Responses to Confusion

There were some responses to the various confusions surrounding this. Snoop Dogg, a promoter for the event, posted an Instagram video addressing the situation. In it, he defended the validity of the festival and specifically called out Lil Kim. 

“Lil Kim, get at me on a DM so we can get at you about this money,” he said to the camera. “We was talking to some of your peoples, or we thought we were talking to some of your peoples. Get at me on a DM so we can try to get you this money, see if you with this thing or not.” 

“But as far as everyone else on this show, 100% confirmed,” he added. 

The founder of music collective Soulection, which is also participating in Lovers & Friend,s tweeted a thread confirming their involvement. 

“Everything we get behind is always official and locked in,” they wrote. 

The presale for the event is set to start Thursday. Ticket prices start at $145, with the highest VIP package going up to $450. On the Lovers & Friends website, it says the “lineup and set times are subject to change without notice.”

See what others are saying: (Los Angeles Times) (Billboard) (Complex)

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Caroline Flack’s Death Sparks “Be Kind” Campaign and Media Conversation

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  • Former “Love Island” host Caroline Flack died by suicide in her London apartment on Saturday. 
  • Flack was awaiting trial for alleged assault charges, a legal process that was unfolding in the public eye.
  • The world has responded with tributes and mourning, as well as condemnation for media outlets and social media trolls who aggravated Flack prior to her death. 
  • The message to “be kinder” has gained traction in the wake of the tragedy.

Tragic Death

When news of TV personality Caroline Flack’s death broke over the weekend, reactions ranged from tributes and mourning to anger and speculation over what might have led to her suicide.

Flack, who formerly hosted the popular reality TV show “Love Island,” died by suicide in her London apartment on Saturday. She was 40 years old. 

Flack had been in the midst of a public legal ordeal, as she was awaiting trial for allegedly assaulting her boyfriend, Lewis Burton. She was arrested in December when police were called to their apartment for a domestic incident, but she was released on bail awaiting her trial scheduled for March.  

Within a week of her assault charges, Flack stepped down from her position on “Love Island” so as “not [to] detract attention” from the show. 

“There have been a significant number of media reports and allegations in regard to my personal life,” she wrote in a statement on Instagram. “While matters were not as have been reported, I am committed to cooperating with the appropriate authorities and I can’t comment further on these matters until the legal process is over.”  

Following her Dec. 23 court appearance, Flack posted a message alluding to mental health struggles stemming from the publicity of her legal ongoings.

“This kind of scrutiny and speculation is a lot to take on for one person to take on their own,” she wrote on Instagram. “I’m a human being at the end of the day.”

//www.instagram.com/embed.js

Push for Change

The news of Flack’s death has yet again drawn closer attention to the way that public figures are harassed by both the press and people across social media. Some are implying that it was this unfair treatment that pushed Flack to take her own life.

There has been public outcry against infamous British tabloids that extensively covered Flack’s legal charges, with The Sun even previously posting a headline calling her “Caroline Whack.” An online petition calling for “new and stricter laws around safeguarding celebrities and people in the public eye” gained over 549,000 signatures by Tuesday morning. 

Another petition was created to urge social media platforms to make online abuse illegal and has gained over 142,000 signatures. The hashtag #CarolinesLaw was trending over the weekend urging these sentiments. 

Even politicians have weighed in. On Monday, a spokesperson for Prime Minister Boris Johnson told BBC, “The industry must continue their efforts to go further. We expect them to have robust processes in place for removing content breaching their acceptable use policies.”

Russell Brand also blamed the public scrutiny of Flack for her untimely death, comparing it to that of Amy Winehouse.  

“I am angry and sad that Caroline Flack found herself in that place,” he wrote in a post on his website

“I am angry because I have watched this play out before with vulnerable people in the public eye and I would like to slay with some righteous sword the salacious, foaming, incessant poking, trolling judgment that chased her to the grave,” he added.

At the end of his post, Brand wrote that he hoped for a better future.

“Our best hope is to build relationships and communities based on kindness, forgiveness and compassion, not easy values to maintain given the complexity within us and without us but Caroline’s death shows us that the alternative is just too sad to bear,” he wrote.

“Be Kinder”

Aligned with Brand’s words, the message that has been repeated over and over following Flack’s death is to “be kinder” to each other.

Iain Stirling, the Scottish commentator on “Love Island,” gave an emotional tribute to Flack during Monday night’s episode with this message.

“We are all absolutely devastated by the tragic news that Caroline, a much-loved member of our Love Island family, has passed away,” he said. “Our thoughts are with her family and friends at this dreadful time.”

“My only hope is that we can all try and be kinder, always show love, and listen to one another,” Stirling added.   

Global fashion brand In The Style created t-shirts branded with the same message that Flack shared in one of her final Instagram posts in December: “In a world where you can be anything… be kind.” All the proceeds from the shirts are being donated to Samaritans, a charity that supports people with mental health struggles and suicidal thoughts. More than £100,000 has already been raised, according to the brand.

“In light of recent tragic events and recognizing ongoing mental health challenges faced by so many, we feel it’s so important as a brand to use our platform to raise further awareness to mental health and the impact surrounding this,” In The Style said.

View this post on Instagram

In light of recent tragic events and the ongoing mental health battles faced by so many we feel it’s so important as a brand to use our platform to raise further awareness to mental health and the impacts surrounding this. You honestly NEVER know what goes on behind closed doors and being kind costs nothing. We have created a ‘Be Kind’ tee and will be donating 100% of ALL profits to @samaritanscharity – They are a charity on hand 24/7 to support people who are suffering with mental health and suicidal thoughts. We want to be very clear that as a business In The Style will make no money whatsoever, we have also waved all delivery charges for purchases on the tee as this is solely to raise money and awareness for a very worthy charity and hopefully in light of such devastating news, we can all learn a very valuable lesson that in a world where we can be anything… be kind. ❤️

A post shared by In The Style (@inthestyle) on Feb 17, 2020 at 10:34am PST

//www.instagram.com/embed.js

Fans have echoed the message across social media.

See what others are saying:(The New York Times) (BBC) (CNN)

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Fans Defend Jim Carrey After “Unacceptable” Remark to Female Reporter

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  • When asked by a female reporter if he still had anything left on his bucket list, actor Jim Carrey said: “Just you. That’s it. It’s all done now.”
  • Some blasted Carrey for what they felt was a sexual remark, calling it “unacceptable” and “inappropriate.”
  • Meanwhile, fans suggested that the comment was not intended to be sexual but was instead referencing the interview itself as his final bucket list achievement. 

Bucket List Question 

Jim Carrey is facing backlash over a remark he made to a female journalist that many found inappropriate, but fans are quickly coming to the actor’s defense online.

Reporter Charlotte Long, from UK’s Heat magazine, sat down with the 58-year-old comedian during a press junket for his new animated film, “Sonic the Hedgehog.”

During her interview, Long asks Carrey,  “In the film, Sonic has a bucket list. I was wondering, after all you’ve done in your career and in your life, is there anything still left on your bucket list?”

“Just you,” Carrey responds. “Oh,” says Long, taken aback by the comment. She laughs before adding, “Wow.”

“That’s it. It’s all done now,” Carrey says to which Long replies with, “I don’t know what to say to that.” 

“Just own it,” Carrey continues.  “Okay, I’m owning it now,” Long says. 

Comment Sparks Outrage 

Long moves forward with her other questions as the pair laughs off the moment. But when she later posted the interview on Twitter, many were shocked and upset by Carrey’s remark, which they interpreted as a sexual comment.

“Lost respect for him today. This is really unacceptable,” one Twitter user said before applauding Long for how she handled it. 

Others called his comment “totally inappropriate” and labeled him a “massive sleazebag.” 

https://twitter.com/ChristinaAllDay/status/1227783036663717889?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1227783036663717889&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.insider.com%2Fjim-carrey-tells-heat-reporter-shes-the-only-thing-left-to-do-on-his-bucket-list-2020-2

Fans Defend Carrey 

But many of the comedian’s fans jumped to his defense. “He made a joke, joke didn’t land. Everyone is so offended about everything. If a female comedian said that about someone we’d all laugh. The hypocrisy is ridiculous,” one Twitter user said. 

“Cue all the heroes acting offended fr the poor woman who was clearly NOT offended.” another added.

Meanwhile, others suggested that his comment is being completely misinterpreted. Instead, many feel Carrey was referencing the interview itself as his final bucket list achievement. 

Long eventually changed her Twitter account to private and neither she nor Carrey have commented on the backlash. 

See what others are saying: (Insider) (Fox News) (EOnline

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