If there is an attack on one of us it is an attack on all of us: The Smollett Affect…

by | Feb 21, 2019 |

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Jussie Smollett, actor.
Jussie Smollett, American.
Jussie Smollett, victim of horrific hate crime. 

EQUALS = America is guilty, racism is stronger than ever, Trump and his followers have shown themselves for who they are, and the future will be filled with these kinds of attacks and worse if we don’t act now. WHAT IS WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE?

The reported biased attack on Mr. Smollett is absolutely devastating for him and every American. To think that in our country, in this modern age, there are people who will have such little respect for another human being so as to attack him, call him ugly names, douse him with a chemical and put a noose around his neck meant to intimidate him and render him worthless is a CALL FOR IMMEDIATE ACTION.

What else are we to do? There is no way I can sit back and allow this to happen in my country and remain silent. As a man of faith, a conservative and a patriot it is my duty to address this attack head on and lead the charge to ensure there is justice for Jussie Smollett and every one of our brother and sister countrymen who may be subjected to this kind of inhumane treatment. This is what justice demands. These were my feelings when I heard about the attack as it was reported on the news.

I have long said that I don’t care who people love, the color of their skin, where they are from or how they pray to their god. None of that should matter as long as we all show each other respect and we all value and protect the nation we are so blessed to live in.

If there is an attack on one of us it is an attack on all of us. As decent people we cannot abide hate like this and let it grow. We cannot ignore the evil of an attack like this, because before too long that hate will grow into something else and we will all suffer its wrath.

I was moved to action as I learned the details of the attack on Jussie Smollett. I felt pain for him, and his family and I felt the anger growing in me against those who would do such a terrible thing to one of my fellow Americans.

Then more the facts came out….. as a trained and experienced criminal investigator, I had to put my emotional reaction to the reported attack on this young man on hold. Something wasn’t right…

It has been my experience that when people are attacked, especially in such a personal way, they react in one of two ways; one, they are drawn in and become skittish of everyone and everything outside, this is a common response to being victimized and traumatized. Two, they rise up to fight for themselves, indignant at being victimized, also a common response.

When I heard and saw Mr. Smollett on TV reporting his experience and how the investigation was proceeding, I saw a third way people react, the way people react when they are not telling the truth.

Both the introverted victim and the extroverted victim tend to fully cooperate with the police, they want the criminals arrested and called to justice. These types of victims provide anything and everything the police request immediately, completely and totally. They give the police their cell phones, their contact lists, and any other evidence the police need or want, in short they participate in the investigation.   

After the initial reporting Mr. Smollett did not follow this pattern. Instead, he gave up his phone reluctantly and only after redacting certain kinds of data, citing the need to keep his photos and videos and contacts private. On its face that might seem understandable, we know many people have private relationships of pictures and videos on their phones, many of them sexually oriented. I can assure you a police investigator has seen everything you can imagine and more, they have no interest in your private sex videos or pictures, they want the evidence that might be in your phone they need to catch the criminal.

When you redact, delete, or otherwise tamper with the evidence and you decide what the police need, you put the investigation in jeopardy and call into question your veracity. Sorry but that’s true, think Hillary Clinton and her missing / deleted emails and computers.

The refusal to give up the phone in its pristine form was one of the first red flags for me and I’m sure it was for the investigators in Chicago. As the days passed and more information came out about the attack the red flags were popping up faster and faster.

When I heard that Jussie Smollett had a noose put around his neck during the attack my heart sank, I know the implications of the noose to our African-American brothers and sisters and the terror and pain it represents. This was the most heinous part of the attack when I heard it.

But knowing the meaning of the noose and how it has been used historically to terrorize people, why would Jussie wear it as he walked down the street? I don’t know I’m not him, but when I heard he wore it as he walked back towards his apartment I paused. I would think he would have immediately ripped that horrible symbol of hate off of his body as soon as the attackers left the area, I know I would  have.

And one of the final straws for me, as the investigator, was the fact that the two attackers were reported to be wearing red MAGA hats and yelled “This is MAGA country” as they left the area. This kind of a statement is not only a red flag it is a giant red banner.

Now to be sure, I am positive there are people who might do such things, there are bad people in every community, but this was a little too convenient when you added the reluctance to give up the phone in pristine condition. It seemed to me to be the icing on the cake that would make this attack a sympathetic event and provide clear evidence of bias and hatred aimed at the victim. In other words, as an investigation, the case began to come apart.

In other cases, cases that don’t make the news or newspapers, this scenario and the actions of the reported victims is very familiar. That does not mean that they don’t happen for real, they do, but a good investigation will be able to prove that fact.

When people lie and make up facts and make false reports, their stories usually wilt and fall apart with proper scrutiny. Conversely, even the most ridiculous sounding report that is based on true events, when investigated properly can be proved- the truth is the truth doesn’t bend no matter how hard you look at it.

Once I saw all of this information, I was getting skeptical of the reported attack. I felt terrible that our whole country was reeling from the report of such an ugly event and it was beginning to look like it was a false report.

When the two brothers reported to be involved in the attack were identified there was a glimmer of possibility that the real story was going to come out. After the police spoke to these young men the final red flags were seen. These young men told the police they were paid by the victim to fake the attack. They bought the rope used as a symbol of hate in the attack with money from Mr. Smollett. The final straw seems to have come when the brothers told the police that Smollett planned the fake attack after he wrote a threatening letter and mailed it to himself at his workplace, but that letter didn’t create the response he hoped for. 

And now Mr. Smollett is refusing to cooperate in another police interview. These are not the actions of a true victim, these are the actions of a person who has something to hide.

It seems clear that, for whatever reason Jussie Smollett reported an attack that didn’t happen, WHY is always the hardest question to answer in these kinds of incidents.

I will speculate as to why a report like this might be made.

It has been my experience with people who make false reports that they do so to create a situation that they desire and cannot get to happen on its own or to get attention they cannot get any other way. We have seen people injure their children so they can nurse them back to health and get the attention of their friends, family and community and the accolades for their actions. In the psychological world this is known as Munchausen by proxy syndrome.

In many false report cases we also see people make the reports to cover their actions, such as being somewhere they should not have been, or being with someone they should not have been with or they engaged in some activity that they are embarrassed by or is viewed negatively by society.

There are other reasons as well, but in the case of Mr. Smollett I can see his desire for attention being a reasonable one, albeit a terrible way to go about it. He is an actor and actors live and die by their name recognition and popularity. Someone once said- “Any publicity is good publicity” and Oscar Wilde said the only thing worse that being talked about is NOT being talked about.   

In our modern celebrity-centered society where large amounts of our fellow citizens are consumed with getting “Likes” for their social media posts and “followers” to their lives of drama working in the local coffee house, and they all strive for their 15 minutes of fame, making a report like the one Mr. Smollett made is made to order for these kinds of desires.       

When you look at that kind of motivation and then look at our larger American society, we can clearly see our country is divided in ways it has never been before. We are at odds over everything, from race to religion or the lack thereof, the way to tax the rich or get even with them, to increase our energy output or return to the horse and buggy days, to maintain our freedom as individuals or melt into a boiling cauldron of socialism, to kill a baby after its born or a thousand other things that only 10 years ago would have been unthinkable.

It is in this context that we search for a reason to make a report like the one Mr. Smollett made. What would he get from making such a false report? There are only two real answers here;

One, he really was attacked by a couple of deranged Trump Loving, MAGA hat wearing thugs or two, he made it up to get some attention he could not otherwise get to highlight something he believes but cannot prove and desperately wants to. 

If the two brothers in this case had not been located and came forward with their information, we would all be left with only the words of the victim. Those words most likely would have propelled Smollett to greater fame and fortune as a victim of the latest Trump created hate crime. Money by the millions would be raised by politicians vowing to expose the haters and Trump for who they are and rid our society of these kinds of people so we can go about our after-birth abortions in peace and safety. Newscasts would blare on and on about the negativity of the right wing, the danger they pose to any of its citizens that do not follow their strict religious dogma of right and wrong and unrest could have been easily encouraged to burn our cities for change!

But alas, that is not to be, or at least it doesn’t seem so this time. Since there have been no real deranged, Trump loving, MAGA hat wearing lunatics attacking people that we can find, we have to wait for the next reported incident, real or otherwise, that will finally reveal the truth so we can then react for change!

In short order the case of Jussie Smollett will be rendered one way or the other. If it happened for real, I will fight for him and for justice; if it didn’t, we have all been injured and the divide between us will have grown a little wider, the Genie will have inched further out of the bottle grasping for an unknown future and our nation will suffer another in an unending slow death of a thousand cuts.

Maybe, just maybe, this time, after this false report designed to have us at each other’s throats, we will learn our lesson. Maybe we will discuss our differences and our differing belief’s civilly and work together on ways to fix our society for everyone’s good, maybe….

I have been CHASING JUSTICE throughout my career friends. My goal is to be THE VOICE for the voiceless. Reach out with your own stories and thoughts on justice…  JPanagro@Americaoutloud.com 

Listen to Lt. Joe Pangaro Weekdays 3 PM EST on his show ‘Chasing Justice’

Lt. Joseph Pangaro

Joseph Pangaro is a retired Police Lieutenant from the Township of Ocean, Monmouth County, NJ. During his 27 year career, Lieutenant Pangaro served in many capacities. After nine years as a patrol officer, he was transferred to the detective bureau, where he served 12 years. During that time, Lt. Pangaro prepared and executed hundreds of search warrants, testified in numerous high profile criminal court cases, and excelled in the area of criminal investigations, including; homicides, sexual assaults, drug crimes, fraud, burglary, juvenile investigations, economic crimes, vice crimes, quality of life crimes and other crimes of violence. He has acted in undercover capacities and worked with numerous local, county, state, and federal agencies. Joseph Pangaro served as a sergeant in the detective bureau, supervising a group of highly motivated and active officers in the unit and the “Quality of Life” unit.

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