The Chicago Police Department believes that money was the reason Jussie Smollett allegedly faked his own hate crime.
Chicago police superintendent Eddie Johnson, at a news briefing following the gay Empire actor's arrest, asserted that Smollett faked the attack because he was "dissatisfied with his salary" from the Fox musical drama -- information relayed to police by one of the Nigerian brothers allegedly hired by Smollett for the alleged hoax.
Johnson, who is African-American, declared that Smollett "took advantage of the pain and anger of racism to promote his career. I'm left hanging my head and asking why."
"When we discovered the actual motive, quite frankly, it pissed everybody off because we have to invest valuable resources," he said.
\u201cChicago police chief says Jussie Smollett paid $3,500 to stage this attack "because he was dissatisfied with his salary." https://t.co/MfyQuQi1uf\u201d
On Empire, the 36-year-old actor portrays Jamal Lyon, a black gay musician whose coming-out story to a disapproving father is the central storyline of the Lee Daniels-produced first season.
Smollett earned $65,000 per episode for the most recent season of Empire, which averages 18 episodes per season, sources told HuffPost. Smollett's salary made headlines in 2016, when Variety reported that the actors who portray the Lyon children on Empire made $20,000 per episode, which is low compared with the earnings of Terrence Howard and Taraji P. Henson, who each made $165,000 per episode at the time.
"We understand the seriousness of this matter and we respect the legal process," Fox Studios said in a statement after news broke. "We are evaluating the situation and we are considering our options."
Whether or not money was the motive of the alleged hoax, many were quick to politicize it, including President Trump, who sent a public message to the actor on Twitter ".@JussieSmollett - what about MAGA and the tens of millions of people you insulted with your racist and dangerous comments!?" Trump stated Thursday on the social media platform.
At the press briefing, Johnson also said Smollett owed the city of Chicago an apology -- as well as monetary compensation. "Absolute justice would be an apology to this city that he smeared, admitting what he did and then be man enough to offer what he should offer up in terms of resources put into this," Johnson said.
"I just wish that the families of gun violence in this city got this much attention," Johnson said at the beginning of the briefing, which was packed with reporters.
\u201c.@JussieSmollett - what about MAGA and the tens of millions of people you insulted with your racist and dangerous comments!? #MAGA\u201d
In late January, Smollett told police he was attacked by two men who hurled racist and antigay slurs at him, screamed "MAGA," beat him, poured an unknown liquid on his body, and hung a rope around his neck.
The incident was referenced by many LGBTQ organizations and media outlets to highlight a very real escalation of violence against queer people in the current political era. Hate crimes jumped 17 percent in 2017, the FBI reported.
In a statement sent to The Advocate, the New York City Anti-Violence Project stressed how, regardless of the outcome of the Smollett investigation, the reality surrounding the increasing attacks on marginalized people "mustn't be overshadowed under these unique circumstances."
"The clients that walk into our offices every day are surviving a culture of violence against LGBTQ people, especially people of color and those of trans experience," Eliel Cruz, head of communications stated. "It's unfortunate if anyone, especially someone with this large of a platform, would falsify any parts of a story of hate violence."
"Still, the reality is that far too many survivors aren't believed and don't get justice for the violence they experience," they wrote.