Jussie Smollett arrested on felony charges in Chicago

Posted February 23, 2019

Smollett's lawyers issued a statement, saying, "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".

"Jussie Smollett continues to be a consummate professional on set and as we have previously stated, he is not being written out of the show", 20th Century Fox Television and Fox Entertainment added in a separate statement. Authorities have a cheque for A$5,000 that Smollett paid the brothers, he said.

According to the police, Smollett orchestrated the attack because he was dissatisfied with his salary. However, the story took a turn for the worst earlier this week when it was alleged that he staged his own attack.

Prosecutors said Smollett gave detailed instructions to the accomplices who helped him stage a racist, anti-gay attack on himself, including telling them specific slurs to yell, urging them to shout "MAGA country" and even pointing out a surveillance camera that he thought would record the beating. Filing a false police report counts as disorderly conduct, a Class 4 felony, and, if convicted, Smollett could face up to three years in prison. Smollett came out as gay in 2015.

He drove them home, wrote a check to one of the brothers for $3,500 and flew to NY, prosecutors said.

The presenter continued: "It's the performance of Smollett's career, playing the role he has craved for years: that of a persecuted black gay man "lynched" by supporters of a man he despises more than any other human being: Donald Trump".

Police arrested Nigerian brothers Ola and Abel Osundairo in relation to the alleged assault last week, but the pair were released without charges, according to CBS Chicago.

But several hours after Smollett was declared a suspect and the charges announced, there was little reaction from celebrities online. On Thursday, he tweeted to Smollett: "What about MAGA and the tens of millions of people you insulted with your racist and unsafe comments!?"

Johnson called for Smollett to apologise to the city and said he was anxious that real victims might now be reluctant to come forward.

"I just wish that the families of gun violence in this city got this much attention", he said.

"My concern is that hate crimes will now be publicly met with a level of scepticism", the police chief told reporters, adding that the city had bigger problems.