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Jussie Smollett Arrested on Felony Charges

Jussie Smollett booking photo released by Chicago Police Department
Jussie Smollett booking photo released by Chicago Police Department

The Empire actor has been charged with falsifying a police report regarding his own alleged hate-crime attack.


Jussie Smollett has been arrested.

The gay Empire actor turned himself in to Chicago police early Thursday morning. He was charged Wednesday by a grand jury for falsifying a police report in his own alleged attack. The actor now faces a Class 4 felony charge and could see prison time of one to three years if found guilty.

Smollett will appear before a judge later Thursday for a bond hearing.

Anthony Guglielmi, a spokesperson for the Chicago Police Department, tweeted the news Thursday morning.

"Jussie Smollett is under arrest and in custody of detectives," Guglielmi stated. "At 9am at #ChicagoPolice Headquarters, Supt Eddie Johnson, Commander of Area Central Detectives Edward Wodnicki will brief reporters on the investigation prior to the defendants appearance in court."

Chicago police superintendent Eddie Johnson held a news briefing regarding the investigation following Smollett's arrest. Johnson asserted that Smollett faked the attack because he was "dissatisfied with his salary" on the Fox musical drama, reports CNN.

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."

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.

"Why would anyone -- especially an African-American man -- use the symbolism of a noose to make false accusations?" Johnson asked. "How could someone look at the hatred and suffering associated with that symbol and see an opportunity to manipulate that symbol to further his own public profile?"

Looking out at the packed crowd of press members, Johnson said, "I just wish that the families of gun violence in this city got this much attention."

Johnson said Smollett paid the amount of $3500 to two brothers to stage the attack. The brothers, wearing gloves, punched Smollett "a little bit," Johnson said, but police believe that the scratches on Smollett's face were self-inflicted.

Days beforehand, Smollett sent a "false letter that relied on racial, homophobic and political language," declared Johnson, referring to a note sent to the Empire Chicago studio. The letter would be a separate investigation, as federal crimes are handled by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel released a statement on the investigation:

"I want to thank all of the Chicago police officers who have worked on this case, and all of the private citizens and business owners who have stepped forward with information and video evidence to help us get to the bottom of what was reported as a hate crime.

All across Chicago, in every neighborhood, there are signs in front yards and in windows that read, 'Hate Has No Home Here.' It is a sign that expresses our shared values and defines our great city. Chicago's message to the world is that no matter where you come from, who you love, or how you pray you will always have a home here. Our laws exist to reflect and defend those values, and hate crimes will never be tolerated. A single individual who put their perceived self-interest ahead of these shared principles will never trump Chicago's collective spirit."

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. 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. That's why we are quick to affirm and believe survivors when they share their stories. For many LGBTQ people across this country, hate violence on the basis of their sexual orientation, gender identity, race, and a combination of all of those identities is a daily experience. Increasingly, these experiences with hate violence end up being fatal. The reports collected through the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs show that the severity of violence reported by LGBTQ people has increased recently, and that those living under multiple forms of oppression face disproportionate rates of violence. These truths mustn't be overshadowed under these unique circumstances."

This story is developing.

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Daniel Reynolds

Daniel Reynolds is the editor of social media for The Advocate. A native of New Jersey, he writes about entertainment, health, and politics.
Daniel Reynolds is the editor of social media for The Advocate. A native of New Jersey, he writes about entertainment, health, and politics.