Jussie Smollett is in hot water. One week after allegedly receiving a threatening letter, the “Empire” star claimed he was assaulted. He claimed that at around 2 am at night two men attacked him, yelled racist and homophobic slurs, and tied a noose around his neck. But what the Chicago Police Department has now alleged is completely different from Smollett’s side of the story. Now he is being sued by the city to recover the money they spent investigating what police have called a hoax
Jussie Smollett is an actor and singer best known for his role on Empire which airs on Fox. On January 22 while on set, he received a letter scrawled in a child-like hand and using cut out letters from magazines to write, “You will die black f**” There was also a drawing of a stick figure with a gun pointed towards his face. On the front of the envelope, MAGA was written in big red letters, referencing US President Donald Trump’s campaign slogan and catchphrase, “Make America Great Again.”
A week after this letter was received, the alleged attack took place. It appeared to be a hate crime.
After Jussie Smollett announced this assault, friends, family, fans, and other celebrities reached out to him. At an event performance a week after the attack, he broke down in tears in front of fans as he explained what happened. He claimed to be recovering after this horrific experience. Jussie was interviewed on Good Morning America where he explained that he was very frustrated how some people were doubting his story. “I’m pissed off… it’s the attackers, but it’s also the attacks… its like, you know at first it was a thing that 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?”
The Chicago Police spent days searching through security footage, eventually finding two suspects that were in the area just before the attack. The police identified them as brothers in their 20s, named Ola and Abel Osundairo. They had flown to Nigeria just after the attack and when they returned, they were detained at customs at O’Hare International Airport.
The two brothers had connections with Smollett. Ola Osundairo appeared as an extra on Empire. Jussie had recently written him a check for $3,500, supposedly for personal training and nutritional advice. The brothers, however, claimed that the check was payment to carry out the attack.
After questioning, they were released the next day and on February 16th, police started investigating Smollett himself. They now started to believe that this was a staged assault after questioning Jussie Smollett. In another part of a Good Morning America interview, Smollett says “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. a lot more”
The actor strongly denied police accusations that he staged a fake assault. Smolletts attorney wrote that “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.”
The Osundairo brothers have claimed that Smollett “wanted his employer and the public to notice and appreciate him as a successful black, openly gay actor.” He wrote the original threatening letter, they say, and when he felt his employers did not respond to that in the way he wanted, he directed this attack.
Smollett was charged with disorderly conduct for filing a false police report on the 20th of February. He was later written off the show and was given a $100,000 bond, but had to surrender his passport and $10,000.
On March 8, 2019, Jussie Smollett was indicted with sixteen charges related to filing a false police report. But then, in a turn of events, Cook County State Attorney Kim Foxx dropped all sixteen charges. In defending her choice Foxx implied that by 16 hours of community service and the forfeit of his $10,000 bond was sufficient prosecution of Smollett
The mayor of Chicago, Rahm Emanuel, stated called it “a whitewash of justice. A grand jury could not have been clearer.” The mayor is looking to sue Jussie Smollett for all the money that the city has spent investigating on this case–around $130,000. “The city saw its reputation get dragged through the mud. The financial cost, the $10,000 [bond] doesn’t even come close to what the city spent in resources,” Emanuel said.
Celebrities like Chris Rock have been making fun of Jussie for this huge case, while others like Andy Cohen have been frustrated by it.
Jussie said after prosecutors dropped the charges that “I would not be my mother’s son if I was capable of doing what I was accused of, I’d like nothing more than to just get back to work and move on with my life, but make no mistakes. I will always continue to fight for the justice, equality, and betterment of marginalized people everywhere.” Whether or not anyone thinks he has enough credibility to continue to play a public role in such causes remains to be seen.
Image: Flickr/Pastor Chris