UPDATE: Jussie Smollett has been indicted on 16 felony charges related to the alleged Jan. 29 attack.
Smollett previously turned himself in to police after being charged with one felony count of disorderly conduct for filing a false police report. He was released from jail after posting $100,000 bond. Smollett’s legal team is expected to strike a plea deal to avoid prison time.
UPDATE: Jussie Smollett has been charged with felony disorderly conduct for allegedly filing a false police report.
According to The Washington Post, Smollett’s attorneys Todd Pugh and Victor Henderson wrote in a statement: “Like any other citizen, Mr. Smollett enjoys the presumption of innocence, particularly when there has been an investigation like this one where information, both true and false, has been repeatedly leaked. Given these circumstances, we intend to conduct a thorough investigation and to mount an aggressive defense.”
Earlier in the day, Chicago City Police Department released the news that Smollett was being identified as a suspect in the investigation after two brothers, later identified as Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundair who were cast as extras on Fox’s show Empire, came forward saying that Smollett paid them to complete the attack.
The police have not released any of the evidence that has prompted the request for a follow-up interview besides the statement from the brothers Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundair.
ORIGINAL STORY: Singer, actor, and activist Jussie Smollett was attacked by two men who beat him, wrapped a noose around his neck and poured a substance, later identified as bleach, onto the actor early Tuesday morning.
According to CNN, the actor performed at a concert Saturday night at Troubadour Club in West Hollywood. He told fans that he was bruised but his ribs were neither broken nor cracked. He went to the doctor immediately but was not hospitalized.
The actor and musician told the police that two men approached him yelling racial and homophobic slurs. One of the men put a noose around his neck and poured an unknown substance on him- later identified as bleach.
Many individuals heard of the event via Instagram and Twitter but Marni Brown, advisor for Faces of Gender club found out about the attack through NPR.
“I wish I could say that this was new to me” Dr. Brown said. “He was an outspoken black gay man. I think the attack was really an intersection of his race and identity.”
Kelsey Simpson, a senior international Business major, is pan-sexual but identifies as straight-passing shared her thoughts as well.
“I’m not surprised… just angry and disappointed. We say this is 2019 and this shouldn’t be happening, but it does.” Simpson said, “I’m disappointed because it seems no matter how far we advance as a society there still will never be a regard for marginalized lives.”
Students also expressed how they were offended by media outlets calling it a “possible” attack.
“Nobody is calling a spade a spade. This wasn’t a possible hate crime, it IS a hate crime.” Simpson said “There is so much evidence pointing to it being a hate crime… What more is needed to prove this? Was the noose not enough? Was the note not enough? Were the witnesses not enough?”
Alexis Adeojo, a general biology major and ally for the LGBTQ+ community, felt the same.
“Right now, it is most definitely the time to be whoever you are and be it to the fullest.” Adeojo said.
“News stations will report things in ways that will fit their narrative” Adeojo said.
“He doesn’t want this to knock him down and make them feel like they got him.” Dr. Brown said, “He is not going to take it and sit down.”
Smollett broke his silence stating that he was okay and received a lot of support from friends, family, and other actors/actresses.
“Let me start by saying that I’m okay… My body is strong by my soul is stronger. More importantly I want to say thank you. The outpouring of love and support from my village has meant more that I will ever be able to truly put into words.”
Simpson found his response inspirational.
“Instead of letting this break and silence him, he kept living in his truth while thanking those who support him. It inspires me to never be silenced in what I believe and to also let my spirit be even stronger than my body.”
Smollett did not stop there, on February 4 Smollett performed in LA and addressed his attack once more.
“I don’t even care to name any names,” Smollett said. “The hateful rhetoric that gets passed around, it has to stop. But guess what, it stops with the people that believe in love.”
Smollett ended his performance stating he is blacker and gayer.
As the investigation continues more information will be released.