Timeline: Jussie Smollett Hate Hoax Attack

Chicago Police, Maury Phillips/Getty Images for BET

Weeks after Empire actor Jussie Smollett made allegations that he was violently beaten by men who hurled racist and homophobic slurs at him, placed a rope around his neck like a noose, and shouted, “This is MAGA country,” local authorities suspect Smollett of orchestrating the attack.

Below is a timeline of the events beginning with Smollett’s original claims of being assaulted by men with a noose and a bleach-like liquid on January 29 at 2 AM on the below-freezing, snow-covered streets of Chicago.

January 29

Smollett was hospitalized after an attack described by the Chicago Police Department as a possibly “racially-charged assault and battery.”

Smollett alleged that his attackers asked him, “Aren’t you that faggot Empire nigger?”

TMZ reported on Smollett’s claims at the time:

The 2 men — both white and wearing ski masks — viciously attacked Jussie as he fought back, but they beat him badly and fractured a rib. They put a rope around his neck, poured bleach on him and as they left they yelled, “This is MAGA country.”

Chicago police claimed via statement:

Given the severity of the allegations, we are taking this investigation very seriously and treating it as a possible hate crime. Detectives are currently working to gather video, identify potential witnesses and establish an investigative timeline.

Empire creator and producer Lee Daniels derided American in his acceptance of Smollett’s claims as prima facie, describing them as “just another fucking day in America.”



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We got this @jussiesmollett

A post shared by Lee Daniels (@theoriginalbigdaddy) on Jan 29, 2019 at 10:55am PST

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), accepted Smollett’s claims at face value while blaming President Donald Trump for the alleged attack:

The recent racist and homophobic attack on acclaimed actor and activist Jussie Smollett is troubling. The rise in hate crimes is directly linked to President Donald J. Trump’s racist and xenophobic rhetoric. It is dangerous for any society to allow a tone of divisiveness and hatred to dominate the political discourse. As this rhetoric continues to bleed into our everyday lives, dangerous behavior will continue to place many law-abiding individuals at risk. We pray for a full physical and mental recovery Jussie Smollett and many unnamed victims of this forum of hate based terrorism.

Sen. Cory Booker called for an “anti-lynching” bill to be passed in Congress while referencing Smollett’s claims.

Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) accepted Smollett’s claims while blaming Trump:

But we have to understand this is happening for a reason. Why all of a sudden do we have people unable to study while black, unable to mow a lawn while black, unable to have a picnic while black, and being attacked? It’s coming from the President of the United States. He’s dog-whistling every day. He’s separating and dividing, and he is basically emboldening those folks who feel this way, maybe never said and never talked about it, never could act it out, but now they’re on it.

Presidential hopeful and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) accepted Smollett’s claims as true, describing the alleged attack as a “modern day lynching.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) framed Smollett’s accusations as accurate, characterizing the alleged attack as “racist” and “homophobic.”

Former Vice President Joe Biden cast Smollett’s charges as authentic, criticizing “homophobia” and “racism.”

January 30

Local law enforcement reviewed hundreds of hours of surveillance footage, finding no evidence to corroborate Smollett’s claims.

CNN reported on the Chicago police’s inability to substantiate Smollett’s accusations:

In a place so far with a high number of private surveillance cameras, they cannot find any images of the two alleged attackers. After combing through hundreds of hours of videos, the only image of Smollett police obtained from security cameras was inside the Subway sandwich shop near the location of the reported crime — and he was standing alone.

Chicago police requested the city’s help in finding persons of interest related to the alleged attack on Smollett, issuing a “community alert” towards such an end.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel framed Smollett’s claims as legitimate during a press conference. “Obviously the alleged statement of what happened here is horrific and there’s no place for it in the city of Chicago,” he said.

Brandon Moore, Smollett’s manager, told investigators he heard the alleged assault on Smollett, claiming to have been in a phone conversation with Smollett at the time.

January 31

One of Smollett’s neighbors claimed she saw a white male — who she described as a “redneck” — near her and Smollett’s apartment complex about 90 minutes before the alleged attack.

Breitbart News reported:

[Smollett’s neighbor told TMZ] she saw the man pacing between the building’s entrance and parking garage while she walked her dog at around 12:30 a.m. Tuesday. According to Smollett’s neighbor, the man appeared agitated and “out of place” as he puffed on a cigarette. She said he was a white male with “scruff on his face” wearing a blue winter hat, a blue hoodie, and jeans. The alleged assailant also wore “thick, grey hunting socks,” which the neighbor said she could see because his jeans were ill-fitted, along with “camel-colored” shoes.

Smollett’s family described the alleged attack as “domestic terrorism” via statement.

Smollett refused to turn over his mobile phone to investigators, according to Chicago police.

February 1

Smollett repeated his claims, telling Essence magazine via statement:

Let me start by saying that I’m OK. My body is strong but my soul is stronger. More importantly I want to say thank you. The outpouring of love and support from my village has meant more than I will ever be able to truly put into words.

I am working with authorities and have been 100% factual and consistent on every level. Despite my frustrations and deep concern with certain inaccuracies and misrepresentations that have been spread, I still believe that justice will be served.

As my family stated, these types of cowardly attacks are happening to my sisters, brothers and non-gender conforming siblings daily. I am not and should not be looked upon as an isolated incident. We will talk soon and I will address all details of this horrific incident, but I need a moment to process. Most importantly, during times of trauma, grief and pain, there is still a responsibility to lead with love. It’s all I know. And that can’t be kicked out of me.

Dozens gathered in New York City, NY, for a rally against what its organizers described as a “racist” and “anti-LGBTQ political agenda” related to Smollett’s claims.

The rally’s lead organizer chanted, “When queer communities are under attack, what do we do? Stand up, fight back. When people of color are under attack, what do we do? Stand up, fight back.”

Via statement to BET, Smollett’s family assessed the claimed attack on their relative as a “racial and homophobic hate crime.”

February 2

“I had to be here tonight, y’all. I can’t let the motherfuckers win,” said Smollett while performing on stage in Los Vegas, NV. Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) was in attendance.

Actor and singer Jussie Smollett returned to the stage in Los Angeles and performed in front of a crowd at the Troubadour nightclub in West Hollywood. Congresswoman Maxine Waters, filmmaker Lee Daniels, and actor Wilson Cruz, where among the audience. “I had to be here tonight, y’all. I can’t let the motherfuckers win,” Smollett said.
“I have so many words on my heart,” Jussie Smollett said. “The most important thing I have to say is thank you so much and that I’m okay. I’m not fully healed yet, but I’m going to. And I’m gonna stand strong with y’all.  l will always stand for love. I will never stand for anything other than that. Regardless of what anyone else says, I will only stand for love. And I hope that you all will stand with me.”

February 13

“Jussie is the victim here,” claimed Smollett’s representatives via statement.

Smollett cried in an interview with ABC while recounting his allegations, shown in a teaser preview video.

In the ABC interview, Smollett said he was “pissed off” at people who do disbelieve his allegations, deriding such persons as unwilling to “see the truth.” He said:

It’s like, you know, at first it was a thing of like, listen, if I tell the truth then, that’s it, because it’s the truth. Then it became a thing of, like, oh, how can you doubt that?

Like, how can you not believe that? It’s the truth. Then it became a thing of, like, oh, it’s not necessarily that you don’t believe that this is the truth. You don’t even want to see the truth.

Smollett further disparaged skeptics of his claims, “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 a lot much more–a lot more.”

Smollett said he was politically targeted because of his opposition to Trump, “I come really, really hard against 45. I come really hard against his administration. I don’t hold my tongue.”

February 14

A reported emerged that two persons of interest in the alleged attack are of Nigerian descent and appeared on Empire as extras.

Chicago police began investigating the possibility of Smollett staging the attack as a hoax.

ABC’s Chicago affiliate reported:

Multiple sources have told ABC7 Eyewitness News that police are investigating whether Smollett and the two men staged the attack allegedly because Smollett was being written off of “Empire.”

A source familiar with the investigation told the ABC7 I-Team that Smollett failed to appear for an interview with detectives earlier Thursday.

February 15

Chicago police raid the home of two of the two aforementioned men — both Empire extras — of Nigerian descent and detain them.

The two Empire Extras are later revealed to be Nigerian bodybuilders affiliated with Smollett.


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#flexfriday Everything we do is intentional You know what time it is!!!

A post shared by TEAM ABEL (@team_abel) on Jan 25, 2019 at 10:32am PST

Smollett secured legal representation from Michel Monico, who also represents Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen.

February 16

Chicago police suspect Smollett or paying the two Nigerian Empire extras of setting up the attack as a false flag “hate crime” hoax.

Smollett’s lawyers maintain that he has been truthful.
“As a victim of a hate crime who has cooperated with the police investigation, Jussie Smollett is angered and devastated by recent reports that the perpetrators are individuals he is familiar with,” Todd Pugh and Victor Henderson, Smollett’s lawyers, told ABC News. “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.”

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