Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson expressed shock in a press conference Thursday over Empire actor Jussie Smollett using the “symbolism of a noose” as part of a staged hate crime against himself.
“This announcement today recognizes that ‘Empire’ actor Jussie Smollett took advantage of the pain and anger of racism to promote his career,” Johnson told reporters. “I’m left hanging my head and asking why. Why would anyone, especially an African American man, use the symbolism of a noose to make false accusations?”
"Empire actor Jussie Smollett took advantage of the pain and anger of racism to promote his career." Chicago Police Chief Eddie Johnson said. "Why would anyone, especially an African American man, use the symbolism of a noose to make false accusations?" https://t.co/MfyQuQi1uf pic.twitter.com/SZXL5Hka0c
— CBS News (@CBSNews) February 21, 2019
Johnson made the remarks during a press conference in which he detailed how Smollet staged a racist and homophobic assault against himself because he was unhappy with his salary and wanted to boost his career. Johnson said Smollett also mailed himself a threatening letter to the Chicago television studio where Empire is filled. He reportedly carried out the staged attack after the letter failed to garner a big enough reaction.
The police chief told reporters that detectives believe the actor paid two brothers — Ola and Abel Osundairo — $3,500 by check to help carry out the assault. Chicago’s local CBS affiliate has obtained video of the two brothers purchasing ski masks and a red hat from a store one day prior to the purported assault. The store’s surveillance footage appears to show the Osundairo brothers bringing the items to the counter for the cashier to ring up.
Smollett turned himself in to police Thursday morning after being charged with disorderly conduct for allegedly filing a false police report regarding the alleged attack. Smollet told detectives that two masked individuals spewed racist and anti-gay slurs at him as he walked home from a sandwich shop on January 29. He also claimed the pair placed a rope around his neck and yelled, “This is MAGA country!” before fleeing the area.
“He took advantage of the pain and anger of racism to promote his career,” Johnson told reporters, later adding “This publicity stunt was a scar that Chicago didn’t earn and certainly didn’t deserve.”
Chicago Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said the actor is due to appear in Cook County Criminal Court for a bond hearing at 1:30 p.m.