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Jussie Smollett Found Guilty of Staging Phony Hate Crime Against Himself

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Lawyers for the actor plan on appealing the verdict, which came after nine hours of jury deliberation.


Smollett Found Guilty

Actor Jussie Smollett was found guilty on five of six felony disorderly conduct counts Thursday for falsely reporting that he was the victim of a racist and homophobic hate crime. 

A Chicago jury deliberated for over nine hours on the decision following a week-long trial. 

The actor appeared on 84 episodes of the television series “Empire” before losing the gig over allegations that he faked the attack. He now faces up to three years in prison but no sentencing date has been set yet. Experts are split as to whether or not Smollett is more likely to face time behind bars or be sentenced to probation and community service. 

Smollett, who is Black and gay, claimed in January 2019 that he was assaulted by two men in Chicago who yelled slurs at him and said, “This is MAGA country.” He also said the two men punched him, poured bleach on his clothes, and tied a noose around his neck. 

The allegations prompted a swift investigation from the Chicago Police Department, but weeks later authorities claimed Smollett had staged the attack.

Prosecutors argued in court that Smollett hired two brothers, Abimbola Osundairo and Olabinjo Osundairo, to carry out the stunt. Both Osundairo siblings testified that Smollett had recruited them and orchestrated the hoax crime. 

Smollett testified himself for roughly seven hours while countering their story. He called the brothers “liars” and said, “there was no hoax.” Prosecutors for Smollett said they plan on fighting the verdict.

What Comes Next in Smollett’s Case?

“(Smollett) is 100% confident that this will be reversed on appeal,” attorney Nenye Uche said in a statement. “At the end of the day, we believe justice will prevail. We don’t believe it was done today but we’re very confident that he will be cleared and he will be found to be innocent.”

Daniel K. Webb, a special prosecutor handling the case, backed the jury’s decision. 

“This jury worked so hard, and for Mr. Smollett to come up before them and lie for hours and hours and hours — that really compounded his misconduct,” he told reporters. 

Gloria Rodriguez, the attorney representing the Osundairo brothers, likewise said she and her clients “could not be more thrilled and pleased with the results.”

Smollett is still facing a lawsuit filed against him in 2019 by the city of Chicago. It was filed to recover the costs spent by the Chicago Police Department when it initially investigated Smollett’s hate crime claim.

“While using a different standard of proof, the jury’s finding of guilt convicting Jussie Smollett of criminal charges stemming from the incident confirms that the City was correct in bringing its civil lawsuit,” the city said in a statement Thursday. “The City intends to continue to pursue its lawsuit to hold Smollett accountable for his unlawful actions and to demand that he compensate the City for costs incurred by the Chicago Police Department which took his false claims of harm seriously.”

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

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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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