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Taraji P. Henson and Jurnee Smollett Defend Jussie Smollett Amid Sentencing

Jussie Smollett's Empire co-star Taraji P. Henson and sister Jurnee Smollett are defending Smollett's innocence as they use the hashtag #FreeJussie on Instagram.

Smollett was convicted back in December of 2021 for faking a hate crime attack on himself back in 2019. Smollett reported to the police that two men wearing masks beat him up on a street in Chicago and called him racial and homophobic slurs.

The Chicago Police later alleged that Smollett was responsible for orchestrating the attack on himself. During his trial he was found guilty by a jury on each of his five felony charges or disorderly conduct for lying to the police.

The actor began his official 150-day prison sentence at Cook County Jail in Chicago, IL on March 10. The actor and singer was also required to pay $120,000 in restitutions to the city of Chicago.

Late Saturday night, Jussie's sister and "Lovecraft Country" star, Jurnee Smollett, took to Instagram to advocate for her brother's innocence. The actress posted an image of a black square with white lettering that said "#FREEJUSSIE."

She wrote in the caption below,

"Black Americans are incarcerated in state prisons at nearly five times the rate of White Americans. Jussie is innocent." Jurnee continued. "And…you don’t have to believe in his innocence to believe he should be free. #FreeJussie #StopLockingUpOurPeople"

Jurnee tagged her brother's Instagram account as well as an account page titled Coalition For Jussie, which has actively been documenting Jussie's trial and campaigning for justice on behalf of the actor.

Following Jurnee's lead, Taraji P. Henson, Jussie's former "Empire" co-star, posted the same #FreeJussie image while referencing the Emmett Till Case.

“I am not here to debate you on his innocence but we can agree that the punishment does not fit the crime. Emmett Till was brutally beat and ultimately murdered because of a lie and none of the people involved with his demise spent one day in jail, even after Carolyn Bryant admitted that her claims were false.”

The actress continued,

"No one was hurt or killed during Jussie’s ordeal. He has already lost everything, EVERYTHING! To me as an artist not able to create that in itself is punishment enough. He can’t get a job. No one in Hollywood will hire him and again as an artist who loves to create, that is prison."

Henson concluded her post urging for a less harsh punishment for the disgraced actor.

"My prayer is that he is freed and put on house arrest and probation because in this case that would seem fair. Please #freejussie 🙏🏾🙏🏾🙏🏾🙏🏾🙏🏾🙏🏾🙏🏾🙏🏾🙏🏾🙏🏾🙏🏾🙏🏾🙏🏾🙏🏾🙏🏾🙏🏾"

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Peri Allen