Empire star Terrence Howard showed support for his fellow co-star Jussie Smollett against claims that he orchestrated a fake hate crime against himself, declaring that the man he knows could never “even conceive of something so unconscious and ugly.”
Smollett turned himself into police on Thursday morning on charges of filing a false police report, after investigators concluded he had faked a racist and homophobic hate crime against himself in downtown Chicago last month. Smollett continues to deny any wrongdoing.
“All your lil homies got you… We love the hell outta you ♥️,” Terrence Howard said on Instagram, in a post accompanied by a video of Smollett cradling a baby on board a private jet.
Yet Howard’s comment was not well received by some of his followers, with one writing: “Seriously? You support that lying felon? Still? Even though all the facts are out? If it was a white person staging a black person, would you still support him?! Typical liberal hypocrites. Just lost [all] respect.”
“Sorry you feel that way but that’s the only Jussie I know,” Howard responded.”The Jussie that I know could never even conceive of something so unconscious and ugly. His innocence or judgment is not for any of us to decide.”
“Stay in your lane and my lane is empathy and love and compassion for someone that I’ve called my son for 5 years,” Howard continued. “It’s God’s job to judge and it is ours to love and hope, especially for those that we claim to have loved. There’s nothing more harmful than a fake friend! Real talk.”
Howard is not the only Empire star to protest Smollett’s innocence, despite mounting evidence that he staged the attack with the help of two men after becoming dissatisfied with his $1 million-plus acting salary. This week, his co-star Gabby Sidibe also backed Smollett’s claims of innocence, while attacking the media for questioning his story.
“I know him, I believe him, I stand with him. #jussiesmollett,” Sidibe wrote on Instagram, accompanied by a quote from black nationalist leader Malcolm X about how the media twists the narrative against African-Americans. She later deleted the post.
According to TMZ, Smollett returned to the set of Empire on Thursday, where he swore to the cast he was not guilty of the alleged charges.
”I’m sorry I’ve put you all through this and not answered any calls. I wanted to say I’m sorry and, you know me, I would never do this to any of you, you are my family,” he reportedly said. “I swear to God, I did not do this.”