Jussie Smollett suspended from Empire after arrest
Jussie Smollett has been suspended from Fox show Empire after his arrest on Thursday morning (February 21) for making a false police report.
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.
“While these allegations are very disturbing, we are placing our trust in the legal system as the process plays out.
“We are also aware of the effects of this process on the cast and crew members who work on our show and to avoid further disruption on set, we have decided to remove the role of ‘Jamal’ from the final two episodes of the season,” they added.
Jussie Smollett pleads his innocence after arrest
In a statement released on Thursday night, Smollett, who alleged that he was the victim of a racist and homophobic attack in Chicago on January 29, said he felt “betrayed” by authorities.
“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,” read a statement sent on behalf of Smollett, who has been released on $100,000 bail, to Deadline on Thursday night.
“Today we witnessed an organised 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 faces prison time if found guilty
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Chicago Police Department has charged Smollett with disorderly conduct and filing a false police report.
He faces up to three years in prison and $25,000 in fines if found guilty of arranging what Police Chief Eddie T. Johnson has called a “hoax,” according to The Hollywood Reporter.
At a press briefing on Thursday, Johnson said: “This announcement today recognises that Empire actor Jussie Smollett took advantage of the pain and anger of racism to promote his career.”
The police chief, who is African-American, called Smollett’s behaviour “shameful,” adding: “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?”