It’s time for the Chicago Police Department to stop wasting taxpayer resources investigating what is obviously a fabricated hate crime and charge Jussie Smollett with making a false statement to police.
To quickly recap: Smollett, an openly gay actor and musician who stars in the Fox show, “Empire,” recently claimed he was the victim of a horrific hate crime perpetrated by Trump-supporting thugs. Besides acting, Smollett is well known for being an outspoken critic of President Trump.
According to the account relayed to the celebrity gossip site, TMZ, Smollett was attacked upon leaving a Chicago Subway sandwich shop around 2 AM. The masked attackers, he says, recognized him, hurled racial and homophobic epithets at him (”Empire f*gg*t n*gger!”), beat him up, tied a noose around his neck, poured bleach on him, and said triumphantly, “This is MAGA Country!”
The original report said his rib was broken in the attack and he was recovering in a hospital. Smollett also told police that in the days before the attack, he received a death threat in the mail. That letter was signed “MAGA,” the same thing he says his attackers yelled. The letter itself used letters from magazines to conceal the sender’s handwriting:
News of the attack immediately went viral, and celebrities worldwide used the incident to denounce what they described as growing intolerance of minorities.
But as people clamored for more information, Smollett started clamming up. The Chicago Police Department opened an investigation, with an assist from the FBI, only to find the actor extremely uncooperative. What evidence they did turn up only served to undermine Smollett’s story.
During a performance at Chicago’s Troubadour Theater days after the attack, Smollett read a prepared statement acknowledging parts of his original story were untrue. Smollett admitted his ribs were not actually broken and that he never went to the hospital.
“A couple of points I wanted to make really quick; just because — four points,” he said before performing an encore. “I was bruised but my ribs were not cracked, they were not broken. I went to the doctor immediately, my friend Gatson [sp?] drove me. I was not hospitalized. Both my doctors in LA and Chicago cleared me to perform but said to take care obviously. But above all, I fought the f*ck back.”
Investigators have also failed to locate any evidence corroborating Smollett’s claims. Security footage reviewed by the Chicago Police Department show a gap where the actor was walking, disappeared from camera, and returned one minute later with a noose around his neck. For an attack as brutal as Smollett described, this is a very small time window for so much to have occurred.
The Chicago Police Department say security footage show the actor returning to his apartment still clutching the Subway sandwich he had bought before the incident, which many found surprising since he had just apparently undergone a horrific ordeal in which he “fought the f*ck back” against racist thugs. That his attackers happened to randomly run into him at 2 AM while carrying the perfect accessories for an anti-black hate crime — bleach and a noose — also struck many as odd, especially as a cold spell meant Chicago temperatures were well below zero that night.
Smollett initially refused to turn his phone over to police, who said it would be useful assisting their investigation. He has said he was speaking to his manager at the time of the attack. “We offered to take the phone to download the data,” a Chicago PD spokesman said, “and he expressed he couldn’t be without his phone for several hours.”
Two weeks after the apparent attack, the actor finally submitted “heavily redacted” phone records in the form of a PDF file, which the police say are useless.
"We are very appreciative of the victim's cooperation however the records provided do not meet the burden for a criminal investigation," a Chicago police spokesman told ABC 7 Chicago. Smollett’s manager, Brandon Moore, has likewise refused to turn his phone over to police.
CNN submitted a FOIA request and learned that Smollett was initially hesitant to make a statement to the police about the incident. Chicago’s WGN reported that despite the massive investigation underway, “At this point, police have not found anything that conclusively proves Smollett was indeed attacked.” The station further reported that when police initially met Smollett at his apartment, he “still had a white rope draped around his neck” and that he asked officers to “turn off their body cameras.”
Others in Smollett’s upper-income Chicago neighborhood, Navy Pier, said the incident makes no sense, The New York Post reports:
“I don’t believe it happened the way he said it did,” said Agin Muhammad, who lives in the same swank high-rise near the Navy Pier as Smollett.
“I’ve been in this neighborhood five years. I don’t believe it, not around here … Half the people are gay and the other half are black.”
A patron at Lizzie McNeill’s Irish Pub, about a block from the scene of the alleged Jan. 29 incident, said Smollett’s story “doesn’t really make sense.”
“It’s a lie, because Chicago is the most liberal city around,” said the man, who wouldn’t give his name. “They have cameras everywhere … Why can’t they find the attack?”
The Post also reports that it located a hot sauce bottle near where Smollett says the attack occurred, and that its contents smelled of bleach. The Post turned it over to the Chicago PD, which said it’s being investigated. If this is indeed the bottle that was used, shouldn’t Smollett have immediately recognized it upon showing investigators where he said the attack occurred?
Since this supposed attack, Smollett’s behavior has been the exact opposite of what one would expect from an extremely vocal left-wing activist who just fell victim to a vicious hate crime. Rather than giving regular interviews and demanding justice, he’s gone into relative hiding. In fact, he’s since hired a PR crisis firm, Sunshine Sachs, that put out a statement on his behalf.
"Jussie is the victim here, which has been stated by the Superintendent of Police,” the statement reads. “Jussie has voluntarily provided his phone records from within an hour of the attack and given multiple statements to police."
If Chicago’s police continue to pretend like they have every reason to believe Smollett — despite evidence showing he hasn’t told the truth, and even acknowledging as such himself — they will only encourage others to file similar false claims, wasting police resources in a city that can hardly afford it.
It’s time for police to finally recognize the evidence before them and press charges.
Against Jussie Smollett.