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Jussie Smollett updates: Timeline of allegedly ‘staged’ attack, what he’s said, and arrests

Tijen Butler February 21, 2019
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Jussie Smollett attends the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater's 60th Anniversary Opening Night Gala Benefit at New York City Center on November 28, 2018 in New York City

Jussie Smollett was 'attacked' on January 29 in Chicago (Theo Wargo/Getty)

Jussie Smollett has been accused of lying after claiming he was subjected to a racist and homophobic assault last month. He has since been arrested and charged with filing a false report.

But what has actually happened over the last month regarding Smollett’s attack? Was it a lie? Who were the two men accused of helping him stage the attack?

Read on for a step-by-step timeline of the events that led up to the charges against Smollett for filing a false report. Here are the latest Smollett updates:

January 29: Attack takes place, celebs share their support

The 36-year-old actor, who came out as gay on The Ellen DeGeneres Show in 2015, said he was attacked by two individuals at approximately 2am in Chicago on January 29.

Smollett alleged that the two men shouted the pro-Trump slogan “MAGA,” meaning “Make America Great Again,” at him during the attack, as well as racist and homophobic slurs, including “n****r” and “faggot.”

The attack was therefore treated as a potential hate crime.

The Empire actor said that the assailants also poured a chemical substance over him.

Following the attack, the cast of Empire took to social media to show their support for Smollett.

Hollywood stars and politicians also sent their support to the gay actor, including Ellen Page.

January 30: Police release CCTV showing persons of interest

Police released CCTV stills of two figures who were potential persons of interest in the case.

The footage showed two men dressed in black walking together along a street with their faces obscured from view.

Jussie Smollett attack update: Chicago Police released CCTV stills showing two persons of interest
Jussie Smollett attack update: Chicago Police released CCTV stills showing two persons of interest.

Chicago Police Department communications officer Anthony Guglielmi tweeted a Jussie Smollett attack update, issuing an appeal for help finding the “potential persons of interest wanted for questioning in reference to the assault.”

He added: “Detectives are taking this development seriously & wish to question individuals as more cameras are being reviewed.”

February 1: Jussie Smollett says his claims are “100% factual and consistent”

Smollett spoke out about the incident on February 1 in a statement to Essence.

He wrote: “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.”

Jussie Smollett speaks to Good Morning America in the wake of the alleged attack
Jussie Smollett has previously criticised the “lies” being spread about him over the alleged assault. (ABC News)

He added: “I am working with authorities and have been 100 percent factual and consistent on every level.

“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.”

Ongoing since the alleged attack: Jussie Smollett conspiracy theory tweets

Several conspiracy theories about the Smollett attack being fake and staged circled Twitter, including some that were ‘liked’ by President Donald Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr.

One tweet read: “I’m more inclined to believe that Hillary Clinton is the President of the United States, than the story that Jussie Smollett was attacked by Trump supporters.”

Another speculator wrote out that Smollett’s only corroboration was an alleged phone call with his manager, yet the pair wouldn’t allow CPD to examine their phones to verify.”

Donald Trump Jr liked tweets that rejected Jussie Smollett's account of events
Donald Trump Jr. liked several tweets that rejected Jussie Smollett’s account of events.

Another post liked by Trump Jr. reads: “If you believe [Jussie Smollett’s account] (…) you’re part of the problem.”

February 14: Jussie Smollett hits back at conspiracy theory “lies”

On February 14, Smollett hit out at the “lies” being spread about him in relation to the alleged assault in an interview with Good Morning America.

“I’m p***ed off. It’s the attackers, but it’s also the attacks,” he said.

Smollett added: “I have to acknowledge the lies, and the hate. And 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 much more. A lot more.

“That says a lot about the place that we are in our country right now.”

February 15: Police arrest two suspects over Jussie Smollett assault

Police arrested two suspects, who are brothers, over the “racially-charged assault” of the Empire star.

The brothers, named Ola and Abel Osundairo, were arrested, questioned and then released without charges, according to CBS Chicago.

A Chicago police spokesperson told NBC: “Detectives have probable cause that they may have been involved in an alleged crime and we are working to corroborate the allegations and investigative timeline as our investigation continues.”

February 18: Suspects claim the attack on Jussie Smollett was staged

On February 18, TMZ reported that the two brothers who were arrested, Ola and Abel Osundairo, admitted that the attack was staged.

Law enforcement sources told TMZ that Smollett’s supposed accomplices said that they got in a car with the actor to scout a location, settling on outside his apartment.

They allegedly told police that Smollett chose the spot because he believed a camera would have captured the attack. However, he didn’t realise that the camera was facing the other way.

The Osundairo brothers claimed they were nervous because, just as they played out the supposed staged fight, a car drove by and they were worried they’d be ID’d.

TMZ’s sources say the brothers performed per the rehearsal discussed with Smollett. The brothers screamed out that they recognised the actor and started yelling abuse ahead of the attack.

During the attack, they “made contact with Jussie’s face” but it was “weak.”

CNN also reported that at least one of the brothers reportedly worked on Empire as an extra, and are now fully cooperating with law enforcement.

February 19: Cardi B says Jussie Smollett  f***ed up Black History Month

In an Instagram Live stream recorded by pop culture site Pop Crave, Cardi B told her fans: “Jussie Smollett, whatever the f**k his name is, I’m really disappointed in him.”

“I feel like he f***ed up Black History Month, bro,” added the Grammy Award-winning artist.

“I’m not gonna say, yet. Until he says it out his mouth that it was fake and the s**t was staged, I don’t want to completely blame him, because somebody I was talking to, they said police in Chicago are racist,” continued the rapper.

“So they might probably try to frame him and make him look like he’s a liar. But if he’s not, then bro you f***ed up, for real.

“Like, why would you do that? You ain’t have to do that. Then you gave Donald f***ing Trump immunity to f***ing laugh at n*****s and s**t, and make motherf***ers look bad.”

Cardi B added that, regardless of the information that had come to light, she wanted to give Smollett “the benefit of the doubt.”

February 20-21: Jussie Smollett is arrested after charge for filing false police report

A Chicago Police spokesperson said that Empire star Smollett has been arrested, after being charged with filing a false report.

Anthony Guglielmi, chief communications officer at Chicago Police Department, tweeted that Smollett had been arrested on February 21. “Jussie Smollet is under arrest and in custody of detectives,” he wrote.

Smollett’s arrest comes after Guglielmi tweeted on February 20 that Smollett had been charged with filing a false police report.

“Jussie Smollett is now officially classified as a suspect in a criminal investigation by #ChicagoPolice for filing a false police report (Class 4 felony),” said Guglielmi.

A Class 4 felony is punishable with one to three years’ imprisonment, the Illinois legislative code says.

Chicago Police Department confirmed to PinkNews the charges had been brought against Smollett.

“Felony criminal charges have been approved by Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office against Jussie Smollett for Disorderly Conduct / Filing a False Police Report,” Guglielmi said in a statement emailed to PinkNews.

“Detectives will make contact with his legal team to negotiate a reasonable surrender for his arrest.”

Prosecutors said a bail hearing for Smollett is anticipated at 1.30pm local time on Thursday (February 21), reports CNN.

February 21: Jussie Smollett ‘fiercely’ maintains his innocence

Jussie Smollett maintained his innocence after Chicago Police Department charged him with making a false report, in his first statement since his arrest on Thursday morning (February 21).

In the statement released on that Thursday night Smollett said he felt “betrayed” by authorities.

The statement read: “Mr. Smollet is a young man of impeccable character and integrity who fiercely and solemnly maintains his innocence and feels betrayed by a system that apparently wants to skip due process and proceed directly to sentencing.”

“Today we witnessed an organized law enforcement spectacle that has no place in the American legal system,” the statement added.

“The presumption of innocence, a bedrock in the search for justice, was trampled upon at the expense of Mr. Smollett and notably, on the eve of a Mayoral election.”

Jussie Smollett created attack as ‘shameful’ publicity stunt, police say

Police Chief Eddie T. Johnson of Chicago police slammed Jussie Smollett for the “shameful” act.

At a press briefing on Thursday (February 21), Johnson said: “This announcement today recognises that Empire actor Jussie Smollett took advantage of the pain and anger of racism to promote his career.”

He added: “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?

“How could someone look at the hatred associated with that symbol and see an opportunity to manipulate that symbol to further his profile?”

He said the Empire actor first attempted to drum up attention from the public by sending a fake racist letter to his place of work.

February 22: Jussie Smollett suspended from Empire after arrest

In a statement reported by Entertainment Weekly on Friday (February 22), Empire‘s executive producers said they have “decided to remove the role of ‘Jamal’ from the final two episodes of the season.”

They added: “The events of the past few weeks have been incredibly emotional for all of us. Jussie has been an important member of our Empire family for the past five years and we care about him deeply.

Related topics: US

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