Empire actor Jussie Smollett shocked the world last month when he said he was involved in an attack. While walking alone in downtown Chicago, he was approached by two men who were yelling racist and homophobic slurs. They then assaulted him, threw an unknown substance in his face, and put a rope around his neck before running off. Not only is Smollett a black man who is openly gay, but he’s also played a gay character on Empire since 2015. It was originally believed that the suspects had recognized the actor from the show and targeted him due to his sexuality. However, now law enforcement has reason to believe that Smollett could have actually hired the men to attack him, orchestrating the entire thing. Why? Perhaps, to start a larger discussion on racism and homophobia, according to CNN. Still, Smollett is holding true to his story and fighting these claims against him.
After the alleged attack, Smollett was reportedly rushed to the hospital where he was evaluated by physicians. Miraculously, he was mostly uninjured. The actor claims he’s been cooperating with law enforcement since the beginning, but they’ve been hesitant to believe his story. The Chicago Police Department has already addressed their doubts, saying that the actor will potentially face charges if it turns out that he gave a false report. Now law enforcement sources from the department are saying they have reason to believe Smollett could have fabricated the entire thing.
— The Root (@TheRoot) February 17, 2019
The day after the incident, police noticed two men on surveillance footage that fit the description Smollett gave of the pair that attacked him. This past Wednesday, both of those men were arrested. However, they weren’t even in custody for a week, before being released on Friday due to new evidence. Chicago Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said that the investigation is now going in a different direction. “Detectives have additional investigative work to complete,” he said. He also mentioned that one of the suspects had worked on Empire in the past, though it’s not yet been revealed what his role was.
Smollett has been outspoken in his frustration over not being believed.
“It feels like if I had said it was a Muslim or a Mexican or someone black I feel like the doubters would have supported me a lot much more. And that says a lot about the place where we are as a country right now.”
There were originally rumors that stated the men who attacked Smollett had been wearing MAGA hats. This is a claim that the actor has adamantly refuted. “I never said that… I don’t need some MAGA hat as the cherry on some racist sundae,” he said.