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‘Girl Bye’: Taraji P. Henson Faces Backlash After Comparing Outcome of Emmett Till’s to That of Jussie Smollett’s In Plea for Actor’s Release From Jail

Jussie Smollett continues to garner support after being sentenced to 150 days in prison for staging an alleged hate crime against himself and lying to the police. Among those allies is  “Empire” co-star Taraji P. Henson, who called for the 39-year-old to be released while comparing the outcome of his case to the outcome of Emmett Till’s. Till was a 14-year-old Black Chicago boy who was brutally beaten to death for allegedly whistling at a white woman in Mississippi in 1955. 

Henson took to her Instagram account over the weekend where she shared a “#FREEJUSSIE” memo and a lengthy caption, writing, “I am not here to debate you on his innocence but we can agree that the punishment does not fit the crime.”

Taraji P. Henson was blasted after comparing the outcome of Emmett Till’s case to the outcome of Jussie Smollett’s, in a plea for the latter’s release from jail. photo: @tarajiphenson/Instagram 

She continued, “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 51-year-old highlighted that “No one was hurt or killed during Jussie’s ordeal.” 

It’s best to note that while the actor’s alleged crimes did not physically cause harm or death, they did, however, cost the Chicago Police Department resources of roughly $130,000 for investigating his allegations. 

“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,” the actress continued. “My prayer is that he is freed and put on house arrest and probation because in this case that would seem fair. Please #freejussie,” she concluded. 

The Golden Globe Award-winning actress’ replies-restricted remarks did not appear to sit well with many people online, who argued the two cases were nothing remotely similar to each other, including one Twitter user who wrote, “Taraji P Henson really has her nerve comparing Jussie to Emmett Till in any capacity. Who have you championed after they alleged some shit while the other party has suffered while WAITING for a verdict? Girl, bye.”

Another person commented, “What the f–k is wrong with people? Emmett Till was innocent. He was murdered by racist psychos. Jussie is guilty and in this case, is the racist psycho. Free him? Why!?”

“Taraji P. Henson defending Jussie Smollett’s and comparing his hoax to the lynching of Emmitt Till is egregious. Stop the madness!” wrote a third. 

“Could this comparison possibly get any more ridiculous? Emmett Till was actually lynched (66 years ago), and Jussie pretended to get lynched. Literally polar opposites,” said a fourth. 

On Thursday, March 10, Smollett was sentenced to 30 months with the first 150 days to be served in the Cook County Jail, for the January 2019 hoax in which he claimed he was the victim of a racist and homophobic attack. Smollett will have to pay $125,106.00 in restitution to the city of Chicago as well as a max fine of $25,000

Following the sentencing, the actor said, “Your honor, I respect you, and I respect the jury, but I did not do this,” before turning to the courtroom and shouting, “And I am not suicidal. And if anything happens to me when I go in there, I did not do it to myself. And you must all know that.”

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