In Chicago at around 2 a.m on January, 29. , Jussie Smollett, the lead actor of the show ‘Empire’ filed a police report that said he was attacked by two masked men as he was walking home from a Subway sandwich shop The actor, who is homosexual and African American said the masked men beat him, made derogatory comments and yelled "This is MAGA country,” a reference to President Donald Trump's campaign slogan, "Make America Great Again" – before fleeing.
Investigators discovered that the attack was staged, and now Smollett is facing one to three years in prison for disorderly conduct. Smollett misled police to think that the attackers were white because he said that they were wearing ski masks that covered everything except the area around their eyes which was white. Smollett hired two nigerian brothers to attack him to by rope around his neck during the staged attack and yell “MAGA country Smollett also instructed the men to yell racial slurs at him and then give him a chance to appear to fight back before putting a rope around his neck. Smollett provided the them with additional $100 to buy a red hat, masks and gloves. Smollett paid the brothers $3500 for their services to him.
Chicago Police Superintendent, Eddie Johnson, said Smollett orchestrated a "phony attack" in order to take "advantage of the pain and anger of racism to promote his career." Johnson was mostly confused on why Smollett would turn against the city of Chicago, that he had proudly represented as a respected actor. In an interview discussing the matter, Johnson said, "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 ... how can an individual who has been embraced by the city of Chicago turn around and slap everyone in this city by making this false claim?"
Smollett's bond was set at $100,000 by Cook County Judge John Fitzgerald. “As you stand before me we presume you're innocent but the state read me a proffer that is outrageous. If true, the noose conjures up the greatest evil in this country," said Judge Fitzgerald.
Smollett staged the attack in an effort to promote his career and increase his salary. In earlier seasons of ‘Empire’, Smollett made less than his co-stars. He was unhappy about his pay and he became victim in a crime motivated by the fact that he is homosexual and African American would bring him into the spotlight, so ‘Empire’ would be inclined to pay him more.
Now Fox, the network ‘Empire’ is on, is considering their options with Smollett. They are "evaluating the situation and we are considering our options." TNT has already pulled Jussie Smollett’s ‘Drop the Mic’ episode. The producers of ‘Empire’ are considering whether to suspend Smollett, and if he loses his role on ‘Empire’ his career could potentially be ruined by this crime.
The one thing that might help Smollett’s case is that he told police that he has a untreated drug problem, and he may use this to get a reduced sentence. His attorneys can make a case that he was not in his right mind, and therefore, does not deserve the maximum three year sentence. While that may reduce the time he spends in prison, it is likely that his actions will have a lifetime impact on his acting career.
Many have viewed this act as damaging to real hate crimes. If a police department has experienced people faking attacks to try and gain publicity, they will now not trust the victim as much. Police departments heightened suspicion for staged attacks may deter people who were actually attacked because they do not want to face the same fate as Jussie Smollett. Smollett has created a stigma around coming forward after hate crimes, and now people who legitimately been discriminated against will not be taken as seriously.