Empire Star Jussie Smollett Arrested For Allegedly Staging His Attack
His alleged motive was gaining sympathy to further his career…
After a three week investigation into an attack that has been called a “hate crime” by the police, media and Smollett himself, Empire star Jussie Smollett has been arrested and charged with federal disorderly conduct for allegedly filing a fake police report. He has already appeared in court and been released on $10,000 bond.
On January 29th, Smollett reported that he was attacked in Chicago by two men who yelled racial and homophobic slurs, hit him in the face, poured an unknown chemical substance on him and wrapped a rope around his neck before fleeing the scene. He also claimed they yelled “this is MAGA country!” before taking off.
There was an immediate outpouring of love and support from fans, colleagues and even politicians who were horrified to hear about the attack. His family released a statement calling the attack a “hate crime” and the police reported that they had a number of detectives working the case.
A few days later on February 2nd, Smollett performed in West Hollywood, telling the audience “I had to be here tonight, y’all. I can’t let (them) win. I have so many words in my heart. The most important thing I have to say is thank you so much and that I’m OK. I’m not fully healed yet, but I’m going to. And I’m gonna stand strong with y’all.”
Despite the widespread support, it wasn’t long before skepticism started to pop up on social media. Smollett appeared on Good Morning America on February 14th to attempt to dispel some of the rumours that he wasn’t cooperating with police. “You do such a disservice when you lie about things like this,” Smollett told GMA co-anchor Robin Roberts.
On February 15th, the police located and questioned two men seen on surveillance tapes but released them without charges. After that, there are reports than the police were investigating the possibility that Smollett staged the attack, to which he responded:
“Jussie Smollett is angered and devastated by recent reports that the perpetrators are individuals he is familiar with. He has been further victimized by claims attributed to these alleged perpetrators that Jussie played a role in his own attack. Nothing is further from the truth.”
On Thursday February 21st, just over three weeks after the attack, Smollett was arrested and formally charged with federal disorderly conduct for allegedly filing a false police report. The crime is a felony and could come with up to three years in prison. Outlets have reported that Smollett paid two brothers Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundairo $3,500 to help him stage the attack. He’d met the brothers when they appeared on Empire as extras.
When questioned, the brothers told police that Smollet had first tried to send a threatening letter addressed to himself at the production studios where he was filming Empire. The letter was meant to get him more attention and sympathy, but it didn’t work, so he decided to stage the attack and asked them to help.
At a press conference on Thursday, Chicago police superintendent Eddie Johnson said Smollett faked the threatening letter and the attack because “he was dissatisfied with his salary” on Empire. Johnson, who is also African-American called the alleged hoax “despicable” and says Smollett “dragged Chicago’s reputation through the mud.”
Reaction to Smollett allegedly faking his attack has been anger and disappointment. Like he said himself, lying about a hate crime does a disservice to the people who have legitimately been attacked because of their race and/or sexuality. It will makes it more difficult for real victims to be taken seriously in the future. Smollett who is both black and gay should be aware of how real that discrimination is.
In his attempt to further his career, Smollett may have just shot himself in the foot. FOX is currently “considering their options” when it comes to how to move forward with Smollet’s role on Empire.