Empire star Jussie Smollett arrested on charges related to false report of hate crime

WASHINGTON — “Empire” star Jussie Smollett was arrested Thursday morning on charges of felony disorderly conduct related to having allegedly filed a false report of a hate-crime attack, according to the Chicago Police Department.

Police said his apparent motive was to get a bigger salary on the hit Fox drama.

On Jan. 29, Smollett, 36, told police that walking near the Navy Pier, two men approached him and shouted racist and homophobic slurs. He said the men beat him and poured a chemical substance on him while shouting, “This is MAGA country!” — a reference to President Donald Trump’s campaign slogan, “Make American Great Again.”

Smollett told police the assailants put a rope around his neck and shortly thereafter fled the scene with his sandwich.

Smollett is biracial (his late father was white and his mother is black) and identifies as gay.

News of the alleged attack prompted almost immediate reaction from several of the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates.

Upon further investigation, police began to question the veracity of Smollett’s account. They reviewed video footage of the area where he said he was attacked but found no evidence of an assault. Police interviewed two suspects in connection with the attack and declined to bring charges.

Smollett was charged on Wednesday. His attorneys provided CNN with a statement saying their client did not file a false report.

Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson told reporters Thursday morning that Smollett decided to engage in a “publicity stunt” because he was “dissatisfied with his salary.”

On “Empire,” Smollett plays Jamal Lyon, the middle son of a hip-hop music mogul and his flamboyant ex-wife and partner. Jamal is a star artist on the family’s hip-hop record label.

Johnson said the scheme began a few days before the alleged attack when Smollett sent a letter addressed to him to the Empire set that contained white powder and relayed racist and homophobic sentiments. Johnson said that when the incident failed to garner sufficient attention, Smollett decided to pay “$3,500 to stage the attack on himself.”

Johnson said he worries that reports of hate crimes will now be “met with a level of skepticism that previously didn’t happen.”

Johnson said reported injuries sustained by Smollett during the incident appear to be “self-inflicted.”

Mayor Rahm Emanuel (D) said in a statement that the incident “will never trump Chicago’s collective spirit.”

President Trump also weighed in.


Smollett appeared in Cook County Circuit Court for a bond hearing on Thursday afternoon. The judge set Smollett’s bail at $100,000 and ordered him to surrender his passport.

This article is republished with permission from Talk Media News