Empire Star Has Fallen


Alaina Haylock

Actor Jussie Smollett was attacked and but evidence points out that it could be orchestrated (Photo screenshot by Alaina Haylock).

On January 29th, a police investigation was opened regarding an alleged attack on actor Jussie Smollett near his apartment in Chicago. Smollett, an African American who is openly gay, claimed that two men approached him around 2 AM, yelling homophobic and racial slurs, pouring bleach down his neck and wrapping a noose around his neck. Jussie said that he fought back the assailants but suffered a fractured rib and other minor injuries. Reportedly, the two men dress in ski masks shouted, “This is MAGA country,” and truly caught his attention by yelling, “Aren’t you that f***ot ‘Empire’ n****?

One week before the incident, Smollett received a hostile letter while at the Empire production location with cut-out letters containing a homophobic death threat. The letter, arriving on January 22nd, said, “You will die black f**.”

Later on, Jussie’s family spoke on the incident saying, “We want to be clear, this was a racial and homophobic hate crime…[Jussie’s] story has never changed, and we are hopeful they will find these men and bring them to justice.”

Jussie Smollett made his first public appearance on February 2nd, performing at a nightclub in West Hollywood, California. He went as far to cancel his meet-and-greet, because of “security reasons.” Before his set, with his attackers hate in mind, Smollett said, “Regardless of what anyone else says, I will only stand for love.”

However, as the investigation progressed, skepticism arised on whether or not the attack was staged. The two attackers were revealed to be brothers Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundairo. One of the brothers is a personal trainer for Jussie, which launched further debate about the alleged hate crime. Smollett’s attorney’s combatted these statements saying, “He has now been further victimized by claims attributed to these alleged perpetrators that Jussie played a role in his own attack. Nothing is further from the truth and anyone claiming otherwise is lying.”

“When I found out it was fabricated, I wasn’t surprised. Nowadays, people will do a lot to push their agenda, “ said sophomore Connor McAbee.

After further interrogation, the Osundairo brothers claimed Smollett paid them $3,500 to stage the attack. The brother’s came forward saying, “We are not racist, we are not homophobic, and we are not anti-Trump. We were born and raised in Chicago and are American citizens.” They claimed Jussie Smollett staged the attack when he felt the letter didn’t get as much attention as he hoped and his salary per episode was lower than he wanted.

After speculation grew, Smollett was charged on February 20th for felony disorderly conduct for filing a false police report. Despite the charge, the actor turned himself in and now faces up to three years of jail time. His bond is set at $100,000.

Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie T. Johnson said Smollet’s hoax attack was a “publicity stunt…to promote his career,” and he orchestaged it because he was “dissatisfied with his salary.”

“Bad publicity forms bad opinions, which isn’t going to get anyone anywhere. It backfires on people like in cases like these,” said McAbee.

Rappers 50 Cent and T.I immediately came to Smollett’s aid when the attack was announced; however, that changed when they learned of the uncertain circumstances surrounding the situation. Chuck D of Public Enemy tweeted, “Jussie is a by product for the times many folks this millennium have clamored for…Now HE got a name. Watch his value rise doing a lil jail time.”

President Trump also tweeted out, tagging Smollett, “What about MAGA and the tens of millions of people you insulted with your racist and dangerous comments!?” In disappointment, comedian and actor Patton Oswalt tweeted, “Way to go Jussie. You just handed this racist dips–t a ‘Get Out Of Race-Baiting Free’ card that he’s gonna wave around like a soiled diaper until he’s re-elected.”

With the evidence the police has, it appears as if Jussie Smollett is guilty of the crime despite his insistence that he is innocent. This news could make or break his career indefinitely, especially after being cut from Empire. Using racism and homophobia as a means to boost your career is despicable, considering the state America is in. Writer Iyanla Vanzant made an interesting point, she said, “At the core of it, he did what we do everyday: he told a lie. If he did this, he has an unspoken, unacknowledged pain, because people in pain, seek to get attention.”