Rev. Al Sharpton reacted to actor Jussie Smollett’s claim to have been the victim of a hate crime in Chicago in 2019 by declaring: “The reported hate attack on my friend and brother, actor Jussie Smollett is despicable and outrageous. The guilty must face the maximum.”
The reported hate attack on my friend and brother, actor Jussie Smollett is despicable and outrageous. The guilty must face the maximum.
— Reverend Al Sharpton (@TheRevAl) January 29, 2019
Sharpton also used his show on MSNBC to defend Smollett, repeating his demand for the “maximum of accountability”:
My #PoliticsNation closing thoughts about Jussie Smollett, Governor Ralph Northam, and dealing with hate and bigotry in this country. Visit https://t.co/ZXOB6x89Vs to watch video clips pic.twitter.com/02NcePiEKI
— Reverend Al Sharpton (@TheRevAl) February 2, 2019
Smollett was found guilty of five counts of felony disorderly conduct by a Chicago jury Thursday.
Sharpton, who had a history of racist, antisemitic, and homophobic rhetoric before being rehabilitated by President Barack Obama and MSNBC as a legitimate advisor and pundit, has been involved in several hoaxes, most notoriously in the case of Tawana Brawley, who falsely claimed to have been brutally sexually assaulted by a group of white men, including a police officer. Prosecutor Steven Pagones won a defamation judgment against Sharpton for falsely claiming he was a perpetrator.
In 2012, Sharpton was involved in promoting the claim that the neighborhood watch volunteer who shot and killed teenager Trayvon Martin in a scuffle was “white”; in fact, George Zimmerman was of mixed descent, with a white father and Afro-Peruvian forebears on his mother's side.
More recently, Sharpton has been a strong advocate of criminal justice reform, which includes more lenient punishment for criminals — with exceptions for those Sharpton wishes to bring to justice.
Smollett is facing a possible sentence of up to three years in prison, but would likely face probation and community service.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.