CHICAGO—“Empire” actor Jussie Smollett choreographed a homophobic, racist attack against himself with the help of two brothers he knew, in an attempt to raise his profile because he was dissatisfied with the salary he was making, police said Thursday.
Smollett staged the January 29 attack to look like a hate crime, to take :advantage of the pain and anger of racism to promote his career,” said Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson
“First Smollett attempted to gain attention by sending a false letter that relied on racial homophobic and political language. When that didn’t work, Smollett paid $3,500 to stage this attack… The stunt was orchestrated by Smollett because he was dissatisfied with his salary so he concocted a story about being attacked.”
Johnson, a black man, railed against Smollett, who he said was embraced by Chicago but unfairly added to the city’s image as a crime mecca.
“I am offended that this happened and I am angry,” he said. “This publicity stunt wasn’t a scar that Chicago didn’t earn nor did it deserve.”
Johnson said he was worried about how this would impact public perception of hate crimes investigations in the future.
“I’m also concerned about what this means moving forward for hate crimes,” he said. “Now, of course, the Chicago Police Department, will continue to investigate all reports of these types of incidents with the same amount of vigor that we did with this one. My concern is that hate crimes will now be publicly met with a level of skepticism that previously didn’t happen.”
Johnson also said he offered Smollett his prayers.
“I’ll continue to pray for this troubled young man who resorted to both drastic and illegal tactics to gain attention,” he said. “I’ll also continue to pray for our city, asking that we can move forward from this and begin to heal.”
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