“Empire” actor, Jussie Smollett, claims to have been physically attacked in Chicago last month. Smollett is angry about the criticism that he’s also been receiving from those that don’t care or don’t believe his accusations. “I’m pissed off,” Smollett said in an interview with ABC News’ Robin Roberts. “At first it was a thing of like, listen, if I tell the truth, then that’s it — cause it’s the truth. Then it became a thing of like, oh, how can you doubt that? Like how do you not believe that? It’s the truth.”
Smollett is an openly gay, black man who made allegations that he was attacked by two men on January 29th while he was walking home from a Subway restaurant. He claims that the two men verbally attacked him with racial and homophobic slurs, physically beat him, and threw an “unknown chemical substance” on him.
According to the police report, the officers who reported to the scene explain that Smollett was found with a white rope hanging around his neck. Smollett told police at first that he was speaking to his manager on the phone at the time of the attack. His manager claims that this is the truth, which would make him the only known witness in the case. While Smollett did submit his phone records for evidence, they were deemed to be in “insufficient” because they were heavily altered.
Smollett’s crisis manager Chris Bastardi came to the actor’s defense, stating that Smollett “is the victim here, which has been stated by the Superintendent of Police.” Bastardi continued, “Jussie has voluntarily provided his phone records from within an hour of the attack and given multiple statements to police. Chicago PD has repeatedly informed us that they find Jussie’s account of what happened that night consistent and credible. Superintendent Johnson has been clear from Day 1 that Jussie is a victim.”
Bastardi excused the altered phone records by saying that they were “intended to protect the privacy of personal contacts or high-profile individuals not relevant to the attack.” He continued by saying, “We are continuing to work closely with the Chicago PD and remain confident that they will find Jussie’s attackers and bring them to justice.”
Cory Booker, a Democratic presidential candidate, made a statement to reporters that he would delay judgment about the alleged attack. “I’m gonna withhold until all the information actually comes out from on-the-record sources. We know in America that bigoted and biased attacks are on the rise in a serious way, and we actually even know in this country that since 9/11, the majority of the terrorist attacks on our soil have been right-wing terrorist attacks — the majority of them white supremacist attacks,” said Booker.
“What we’re seeing is attacks on people because they’re different and we all need to join together and condemn those attacks and the hatred and the bigotry that sources them,” continued Booker.
Chicago police questioned two Nigerian brothers last week, but let them go on Friday without charges. The spokesperson for the police, Anthony Guglielmi, said that they received information from the brothers that “shifted the trajectory of the investigation”.
“While we are not in a position to confirm, deny or comment on the validity of what’s been unofficially released. There are some developments in this investigation and detectives have some follow-ups to complete which include speaking to the individual who reported the incident,” Guglielmi continued.
Despite accusations, Todd S. Pugh and Victor P. Henderson, Smollett’s attorneys, deny that the attack was fake. “As a victim of a hate crime who has cooperated with the police investigation, Jussie Smollett is angered and devastated by recent reports that the perpetrators are individuals he is familiar with. He has now 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 and anyone claiming otherwise is lying.”