Jussie Smollett, the Chicago Police Department, and the Appearing/Disappearing Video Footage Trick
The cops “investigating” the Smollett case have long records of racist brutality, evidence tampering and lying – facts the corporate media ignored.
“The nation heard a daily, jarring cacophony: CPD bragging about how great its detective work is.”
They say tell it like is, so...
It's 2019. Trump is president. Racist and general hate speech has become common. Jussie Smollett is attacked in such a hate crime. The corporate media, Chicago media, Trump, Mayor Rahm Coverup Emanuel, and the Chicago Police Department all say Smollett is a damn liar.
Standing at literal podiums, they shared opinions about Jussie and concluded by declaring him guilty -- before the trial. CPD agrees, Trump agrees, corporate media agrees, Chicago city officials who-never-address-rampant-CPD-corruption agree, Mayor Emanuel agrees. Case closed.
Or is it?
Of course it's not.
The Laquan Connection
Laquan McDonald was a child killed by a police officer, shot 16 times in Chicago. The killing rocked the city, Chicagoans forcing a public reckoning through powerful organizing, unity, truth-telling, journalism, action, vision and heart. People stood together across the city saying Laquan's name for years. They filed FOIA requests to get videos released, forced public officials out of office, and got a trial.
Laquan's murder, and the years-long cover-up by Chicago city officials, CPD, and Mayor Emanuel put Chicago's long-standing official racism and abuse of authority on public display. On October 5, 2018, a jury found Officer Jason Van Dyke guilty of murder and guilty of every bullet.
On January 17, 2019, a Chicago judge dismissed charges against three officers who covered up Laquan's murder. On January 18, 2019, another Chicago judge sentenced Van Dyke to a mere 6.5 years. "Taken away as though it never happened. ...I'm glad I did my job, but I feel betrayed," said Charlene Cooke, a jurorin the case.
The Jussie Smollett headlines began less than two weeks after Van Dyke's under-sentencing and the complete acquittal of the three officers.
In what quickly developed into a relentless wave of headlines, Chicago became the subject of a very different story -- one that's lasted seven months, and counting. The nation began to hear a daily jarring cacophony: CPD bragging about how great its detective work is, and then, along with Trump, Mayor Emanuel, and corporate media, giving America lessons on race and the importance of telling the truth.
“In this story, CPD was a stellar police department, Emanuel cared about the truth, and Jussie Smollett was nothing but a liar.”
Important headlines in Laquan's case strained for coverage, like: the public reaction to the judicial under-sentencing, what the Mayor was doing now after spending years lying about Laquan, CPD's thoughts on their need to address their internal problems, Van Dyke beginning his sentence and becoming subject to prison's horrors, and what the next steps to take community control of the police will be after this victory.
But there was no time to talk about any of that. The story was about Jussie Smollett. In this story, CPD was a stellar police department, Emanuel cared about the truth, and Jussie Smollett was nothing but a liar when he reported a White man screaming hate attacked him in a Chicago night.
Some faces changed in the time between Laquan and Jussie's cases and some remained the same. One who remained the same is detective Richard Hagen. Hagen was sued for participating in the cover-up of Laquan's murder. The lawsuit cost the city $5 million. In Jussie's investigation, Hagen wrote many of the reports and looked for video footage.
Mayor Emanuel is also connected to both Laquan and Jussie. He spent his last days in office taking swipes at Jussie rather than confront the high level of corruption around him. On Laquan's case and his part spending years trying to cover it up, Emanuel barely said a mumbling word.
Context is Everything
What corporate media did so well in the Jussie Smollett case is something at which they have become very skilled: shaping stories while avoiding discussion of context. Corporate media told this story as though a random police department, mayor, and city officials had discovered a Black man lied and tried to make them look bad. It neglected to mention that these very people were embroiled in unprecedented scandals for lying about the murder of a Black child.
They also neglected to mention the "context" of people's lives in Chicago and the fact that Chicagoans are in an ongoing battle to take community control of the police in a city where corruption and abuse is obvious and common.
By glossing over context, corporate media can shape any story to fit its interests. It does this very well, and succeeds when people fail to notice the lack of meaningful context in a story or the lack of clarifying discussions focused on solutions; essentially corporate media succeeds if people fail to respect the power of their own minds and think for themselves. This is disempowerment at its highest, a truth that must be told about America.
The Investigation was Highly-Flawed. This Cannot Be Overstated.
A neighbor told CPD the morning after the attack that she saw a strange White man with a rope in his pocket "appearing to be waiting for something" outside the building she and Jussie lived in at 12:30am -- 90 minutes before the attack occurred.
She gave CPD a very detailed description of the man: "White, mid 30s, wearing glasses, having reddish-brown hair and slight facial hair...wearing all blue...smoking a cigarette and standing on New St. near Lower North Water St. near the loading dock between the resident entrance and resident garage door..." (p41). Are we supposed to believe there is no video footage of this person?
A Sheraton Hotel guard told CPD immediately after the attack that two masked men ran by him that night -- one of whom was White -- and gave a detailed description of their bizarre behavior (p236).
There is video from the Sheraton which shows this masked man and his companion startling the Sheraton guard, who shined his flashlight on them. (p152) This video should be viewed in court and discussed at length.
CPD's investigation goes on to make the startling claim that a motion-activated video camera turned off just as the attack on Smollett began.
Detective Vogenthaler reports, "video shows Smollett walking with at least one unknown subject walking behind. As this subject enters the view of the camera, the motion activated video footage stops." (p222)
Detective Parages writes: "the victim crosses the street... Just behind him another subject comes into view just before the video cuts off due to insufficient motion. Less than a minute later the other views...show 2 subjects running and startle a security guard holding a flashlight as they pass." (p152)
CPD has not been questioned about this highly-irregular detail.
CPD also told the public that a camera that could have filmed the attack was "turned the wrong way" and filmed nothing.
These are disappearing video tricks.
There are also the appearing video footage tricks. For example, Hagen -- who helped cover up Laquan's murder -- reported finding film of the Osundairo brothers buying red hats. (p320 and 349)
Of what relevance is this footage? Jussie never reported a red hat. None of the witnesses reported a red hat, nor CPD's own reports. CPD documents show Jussie specifically telling them he never said anything about a red hat. (p260)
Corporate media picked up this detail, repeated it many times, and then suddenly there is footage of two Nigerian brothers buying red hats. It is materially-irrelevant to the case. Why was it shown on corporate media as though it was a smoking gun? These are appearing video tricks.
CPD ignored videos and witnesses from the crime scene. But they bragged that, within one week of the attack, detectives were able to track two brothers through surveillance cameras across Chicago in and out of vehicles and on foot, even finding footage of the brothers jumping out of an Uber to get into a cab miles away. They strung all this together and realized the attackers were Nigerian brothers who lived in a completely different part of the city. All within one week's time. At the scene of the crime, they found no evidence -- at least, none to speak of.
The Osundairo Interview
CPD reports the Osundairo brothers were arrested at the airport on their return from Nigeria. The brothers requested a lawyer, refused to talk to police (p269), and refused to eat any food during their time in custody. (p172) Detective Michael Vogenthaler notes their distrust of police. (p170)
On February 15th, the brothers had to be charged or released. Starting at 1pm, Detective Kimberly Murrayrepeatedly called and texted the Osundairo's lawyers and law offices. When told the lawyer was in trial, Murray "explained the urgency of the situation due to the 48 hour deadline" (p204) When she finally spoke to one of the lawyers at nearly 4pm, the conversation was "regarding the time and location desired to sign complaints."
It is remarkable to realize that CPD was trying to get the Osundairos to sign a complaint before the 48th hour arrived. The brothers had not even spoken to police at this point. What could the police know, if anything? What did the complaint say, and what evidence was it based on?
After nearly two full days in custody, Olabinjo Osundairo finally entered a room with detectives -- and his lawyers. Vogenthaler writes that Olabinjo was "read his rights and confirmed that no promises were made or could be made in return for his statement and cooperation." (p171)
This is 'the snitching oath,' administered by cops to some people after their rights are read and before the interview even begins: the conversation everyone agrees to never admit to, usually made under duress in a hostile environment.
It must be remembered that the Osundairo brothers were arrested after a long flight from Nigeria and then did not eat for two days. They were then brought in to sign pre-formulated complaints within a one hour time frame, under threat of prosecution, by CPD's own statements.
After Olabinjo's interview, his brother Abimbola "was still very skeptical," according to police. At this point, Sgt. Blas suggested the quite unorthodox idea of having the cooperative brother sit in on the interview with the skeptical brother "in an effort to make Abimbola Osundairo more comfortable." (p171) So Olabinjo joined his brother.
CPD is known for extracting false confessionsthrough torturing many Black men. What does it mean to make a confession an environment like this? A whistleblower police officerwho tried to expose CPD criminality experienced the pressure that countless people in Chicago have gone through. As the retaliation against her heightened and she realized the depth of corruption in CPD, she understood why"countless others pleaded guilty and cut deals when falsely arrested... Now she grasped what it was like to be caught in the machinery of a system, indifferent to your welfare and to the truth, that was dedicated to imposing its own version of reality."
The Osundairo interview is highly-questionable. Following the conversation, the two brothers were promptly released without any charges.
After the complaints were signed CPD declared to the world that Jussie Smollett (the neighbor and the Sheraton guard, for which there is footage) lied when saying there was a White man was at the scene that night.
The detectives at the interview include Vogenthaler, Sgt. Blas, and Sgt. Haleem.
Sgt. Haleemis accused of trying to force an innocent man to admit to a crime he didn't commit, then choking him and slamming his head into the wall when he refused. The man was hospitalized. Sgt. Haleem received no discipline for this and Chicago taxpayers paid to settle the lawsuit.
Ronald Blas, Sergeant of Police, has 27 allegations against him, including selling/possession of drugsand lots of violence. He received no discipline for any of them.
And Michael Vogenthaler, who headed up much of the investigation, has 35 criminal allegations against him, including bribery/official corruption. He got 34 allegations in his first decade on the job, then was promoted to detective.
These are the troubling backgrounds of the men who presided over the 47th hour interview with the Osundairo brothers.
Truth and Lawsuits
They say tell it like it is.
A Chicago judge has appointed a special prosecutorto decide if Jussie Smollett will be re-prosecuted: Dan Webb. In his career, Webb has defended Monsanto, cigarette companies, and is much sought after in the corporate world. This man will supposedly discover the truth and justice in this case and share it with the world.
Chicago city officials have also sued Jussie, demanding that he pay $130,000 for the hours investigators worked on the case.
But who were these investigators investigating Jussie Smollett? Their allegation histories read like they make a career out of criminality instead of protecting the law. Many of these officerswere written about previously, but as CPD continued to release files and more officers' names, the picture grew more troubling.
The most recent release of documents added names to the mix like Detective Richard Chorak (p184), who looked for surveillance footage throughout the city. City taxpayers paid for a misconduct settlement in which Chorak allegedly kicked a manlying in a fetal position with fellow officers for several minutes, causing the man severe spinal injuries.
Detectives Monty Cassidyand Kevin Stollworked together during part of the investigation, also looking for video footage.
Detective Cassidy has been accused of using racist hate speech, as well as attacking an innocent manand falsely charging him with drugs and assaulting an officer, which cost the city $50,000 to settle. In a second misconduct lawsuit he is accusedof attacking a woman, falsely arresting her, and subjecting her and her family member to myriad abuses.
Detective Stoll allegedly shot an innocent man in the stomach, lied about it, and then charged the man with drugs and assaulting an officer. The man had to wear a colostomy bag and have several surgeries. The misconduct lawsuit cost the city $99,000.
Detectives Graves, Jasica, and Sgt. Haleem visited Jussie during the investigation and began arguing with him about why he called the masked man "pale" this time when he said "white" last time (215). This, despite all witnesses at the scene immediately reporting that the man was White.
Detective Graveshas 20 allegations. In one involving a group of Black men and women, he calledsomeone a "lying motherf-", told someone else "I'll beat your motherf- [email protected]@" and "stereotyped by stating words to the effect of 'you must belong to a gang because you live in public housing.'"
Roland Jasicahas more complaints than 93% of Chicago officers, with 34 criminal allegations against him. In his first six years as an officer he was accused of 22 crimes against the public, after which he was made a detective. These allegations include criminal misconduct/sale or possession of drugs. He was never disciplined for any of them.
Suing Jussie for wasting these detectives' time is a smokescreen move by City officials. Why are these City officials wasting millions of taxpayers' hard-earned money by fostering an environment where police officers are not corrected and are [allegedly] abusing people with impunity causing the city a financial crisis? Perhaps they should be sued while they figure it out.
It's clear from a mile away that there's a lot of bullyingand rank-pulling in the Chicago Police Department. There is a code, and if you stray, you pay. Neither police nor soldiers have true power. They exist in institutions of hierarchy that few people could stomach. They don't set agendas, they enforce them, and there is a level above them that often gets overlooked.
Taking community control over the dysfunctional, abusive, and corrupt CPD culture through training, community oversight committees, hiring committees, etc, is not an act of hate towards police, it's an act of love.
Chicago showed much heart in the struggle for Laquan's name, and change. Chicago has always shown a lot of heart, from Fred to Laquan, and all in between. Jussie shows much heart in his unwillingness to lie or back down from a battle, and in the actions he has taken throughout his life.
Jussie's sister, Jazz Smollett-Warwell, spoke about this ordeal on Sway's Universe, saying "A lot of people have no idea the powerful people -- 'powerful people' -- that we were up against."
These 'powerful' forces -- which include CPD, Trump, Mayor Emanuel, corporate media, Chicago media, City officials, and judges -- expend a lot of energy trying to slander Jussie's name. Yet, behind the shadows they are casting lies the obvious truth: none of these people knows how to improve the state of our world. In arrogance and greed, they loudly make things worse. Why listen to them? This remains one of the greatest questions of the age.
If you want to read the police reports and check page numbers, see this document:https://www.scribd.com/document/411963195/Jussie-Smollett#download
Chelli Stanley is an independent journalist, environmentalist, Buddhist, common person, of African, Japanese, and European descent born in Mexico. Has traveled widely, doesn't watch tv, wants freedom. Can be contacted at [email protected]
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