Empire actor Jussie Smollett will face trial this week, standing accused of staging a hate crime against himself.
Smollett claimed he was attacked by two men wearing ski masks at around 2.00am in January 2019, while he was walking home from a Subway store.
The actor – who is Black and openly gay – said the men were shouting racist and homophobic slurs and that they tied a noose around his neck, while also making reference to Donald Trump‘s ‘Make America Great Again’ phrase.
However, after authorities investigated the crime, police alleged it was staged by the actor.
The actor, who is best known for his work on the television series Empire and Ridley Scott’s Alien: Covenant will stand trial today, November 29, after being charged with felony disorderly conduct following the alleged hate crime.
Former CPD Superintendent Eddie Johnson alleged the actor had sent himself a threatening letter prior to the alleged attack. Smollet is accused of then paying two brothers, Abimbola and Olabinjo Osundairo, $3,500 to fake an attack because he wanted a salary increase.
Smollet has denied these claims, with his lawyers stating the payment to the Osundairos was to cover personal training costs.
Here is the latest statement from the attorneys that Jussie Smollett has retained: pic.twitter.com/E6L8KytPgy
— Stephanie Wash (@WashNews) February 17, 2019
In the statement, Smollett’s lawyers reportedly also said:
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.
However, Superintendent Johnson, who is also Black, felt that Smollett staged the attack and used ‘the pain and anger of racism to promote his career.’
The official continued:
Why would anyone — especially an African-American man — use the symbolism of a noose to make false accusations. How could someone look at the hatred and suffering associated with that symbol and see an opportunity to manipulate that symbol to further his own public profile?
The trial was delayed due to the pandemic but will take place this week, with the Osundairo brothers as key witnesses.
If you have been affected by any of the issues in this article and wish to speak to someone in confidence, contact Stop Hate UK by visiting their website www.stophateuk.org/talk