Jussie Smollett, as you may recall, was allegedly attacked several weeks ago in Chicago, supposedly by two white men who threw a chemical on him, put a noose around his neck and told him, among other racial and homophobic slurs, “This is MAGA country.” The incident came shortly after a threatening letter with white powder inside and “MAGA” as the return address was allegedly sent to the “Empire” set. After that incident, Smollett refused extra security.
The veracity of the story has been in question as more details have emerged, however. In spite of the fact that the alleged attack occurred in one of the most heavily surveilled areas of Chicago, no video exists of the attack.
Smollett claims that he was on the phone with his manager when the attack occurred, but neither he nor his manager were willing to turn over their phone or records of their calls. When the actor turned over records two weeks after the attack, they were heavily redacted and in a document format that could be easily manipulated.
The “Empire” star didn’t call police from the scene and asked them to turn off their body cameras when they arrived. Also, the Subway sandwich he was getting at the time of the alleged assault remained perfectly intact.
Now comes news that Chicago Police have carried out a raid and arrested two “persons of interest” and potential suspects in the alleged attack — and the reason why they happen to be of interest isn’t good for Smollett’s case.
According to WBBM-TV, the Wednesday raid was aimed at two brothers of Nigerian descent who know Smollett and at least one of them appeared on “Empire” as an extra.
This information is according to family who says home was ransacked. I asked family why they think police picked the two brothers up for questioning and they replied by saying the men left for #Nigeria the day of the attack. @cbschicago
— Charlie De Mar (@CharlieDeMar) February 14, 2019
“They do know Jussie,” their attorney, Gloria Schmidt, said. “They have worked with him on ‘Empire.’ My preliminary investigations show that on set it’s very tight. They’re all very cordial with each other, so they’re baffled why they are people of interest.”
WBBM’s Charlie Del Mar reported that the mens’ family says the two left for Nigeria the day of the attack. Perhaps most importantly, electronics and bleach — the chemical that was thrown on Smollett by the alleged attackers — were seized by police.
The two men were picked up by police Wednesday at O’Hare Airport upon their return.
Chicago Police continue to officially deny reports that claim the attack was a hoax.
“While we haven’t found any video documenting the alleged attack, there is no evidence to say that this is a hoax,” police department spokesman Anthony Guglielimi said. “The alleged victim is being cooperative at this time and continues to be treated as a victim, not a suspect.”
Media reports anout the Empire incident being a hoax are unconfirmed by case detectives. Supt Eddie Johnson has contacted @ABC7Chicago to state on the record that we have no evidence to support their reporting and their supposed CPD sources are uninformed and inaccurate. pic.twitter.com/iSO5YFv452
— Anthony Guglielmi (@AJGuglielmi) February 15, 2019
To safeguard the investigation, details about the case including timelines & backgrounds of those being questioned by police will not be released or commented on while detectives question persons of interest. Media reports of investigative details cannot be confirmed at this time pic.twitter.com/I1ug6u53E9
— Anthony Guglielmi (@AJGuglielmi) February 14, 2019
We’ve seen plenty of high-profile fake hate-crime stories that have allegedly had something to do with Trump from the moment he was elected to now. Even when we’re not dealing specifically with the arena of hate crimes, we have stuff like the Covington Catholic incident where Nathan Phillips claims that he heard the students chanting “build the wall,” even as reams of video seem to disprove this.
Of course, we simply don’t know whether or not we’re dealing with a fake hate crime here, but some of pieces haven’t added up for quite some time. Smollett isn’t helping matters, saying he’s “pissed” at anyone who doesn’t believe his story.
“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 much more,” Smollett told ABC News. “A lot more. And that says a lot about the place that we are in our country right now.”
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