Update, February 21st, 2019, 10:11 a.m.: Jussie Smollett officially turned himself in to authorities in the early hours of Thursday, February 21st, for allegations that he staged a hate crime—which is classified as disorderly conduct and also a felony. According to the Chicago Sun Times, sources from the Chicago police department have indicated that testimony from the two men arrested “led detectives to believe Smollett may have paid them to stage the attack, which was initially investigated as a hate crime.”
On January 29th, Empire star Jussie Smollett was attacked by two men who reportedly yelled racist and homophobic slurs at him. The assailants allegedly beat him, tied a rope around his neck, and threw “an unknown chemical substance” on his body. Smollett later reportedly told police that the two men yelled, “This is MAGA country.” The 36-year-old actor is thankfully okay, but unfortunately, some people have cast doubt on his version of events. And in a February 14th interview on Good Morning America, Smollett addressed the skeptics.
As NBC News notes, Chicago police haven’t found any surveillance footage documenting the attack, which has led some on social media to accuse Smollett of lying. Police have released a picture of two “persons of interest” seen near the location of the attack, and Smollett told Roberts that he thought the two men in the picture could be his attackers.
CBS Chicago notes that Smollett has given “limited and heavily redacted” phone records to the police. The actor told Roberts that he didn’t turn his phone over to them because he has private information on his device—some of which includes private photos and the contact information of other celebrities, and he is merely concerned about a leak. He said that he decided to speak to GMA because he felt “people need to hear the truth.”
We admire Smollett’s strength, and we stand with him as he seeks justice.