Actor Jussie Smollett has been facing plenty of backlash after a vicious attack on him near his Chicago apartment appears to have been staged. The January 29 attack was described by the actor as a racial and homophobic crime, during which he was bitten and had bleach poured on him, with his attackers screaming “MAGA country” throughout.
But as more and more details have emerged about the incident, the two suspects, brothers Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundairo, were released as new evidence came to light to suggest that Smollett himself had actually orchestrated the attack. The Empire actor has strongly denied these claims.
Now ABC News is reporting that a source has offered a potential reason for Smollett to have planned his own attack. According to the network, Smollett received a threatening letter to the Chicago Fox studio where Empire is filmed just a week before the attack took place. The letter, which contained “threatening language and was laced with a powdery substance investigators believe was likely crushed-up Tylenol,” was largely ignored.
The Osundairo brothers reportedly told police during their questioning that Smollett had been upset by the lack of attention the letter had received. It was this lack of attention that they said led Smollett to decide to stage the attack.
Brothers implicated in attack on Jussie Smollett tell police the 'Empire' actor was upset that earlier threatening letter didn't get enough attention, sources tell @ABC News. https://t.co/vi6ro04yw0 pic.twitter.com/T1ViM9HROv— ABC News (@ABC) February 19, 2019
So far police have not yet corroborated the Osundairo brothers’ account of the events, but the fact that they are no longer in jail or currently facing charges could indicate that police believe there is some merit to their side of the story.
The Osundairo brothers were arrested after police found evidence that they had purchased the rope that was used in the attack. Since their release, no one else has been arrested or charged in connection with the case, but if it’s found that Smollett was the instigator he could be facing charges for his own attack.
“We are not racist. We are not homophobic and we are not anti-Trump. We were born and raised in Chicago and are American citizens,” the Osundairo brothers said in a statement.
To deal with the disaster he has on his hands, Smollett has hired crisis manager Anne Kavanaugh to his legal team. He has also released a number of statements to try and refute the claims. While police wanted to speak to Smollett on Monday, he has not yet met with them, instead preferring to allow his legal counsel to deal with the situation on his behalf.