Issue of the Issue: The Jussie Smollet controversy

Maddie Westbrook, Staff Writer

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January 29, 2019 Jussie Smollett reported being attacked by two men in Chicago. Jussie Smollett is a 36-year-old, homosexual African-American actor and singer. A week prior to his attack, January 22, he received an envelope addressed to him at a FOX studio, where his show Empire is filmed, on the west side of Chicago. The envelope had the letters “MAGA” written in red ink in the return address section of the envelope. Inside the envelope was cut out letters spelling out, “You will die black [expletive].” There was also white powder in the envelope, which investigators determined to be crushed pain reliever.

Then, January 29, Smollett reported being attacked by two men at 2 a.m. on his way back to his home from a sandwich shop in the subway. Smollett says that these two men were yelling racial and homophobic slurs, placed a noose around his neck, hit him, and yelled, “This is MAGA country!” The attack received lots of attention and support for Smollett from social media and celebrities in the media like Ellen DeGeneres. However, along with the support from social media, many were skeptical about the event and attack. Many people online said he changed his story and and that Smollett wasn’t cooperative.

“[He] has told the police everything…. His story has never changed,” said Smollett’s family to The New York Times.

Smollett has also been open on social media saying he is okay and is actively working with police.

“[I have been] 100 percent factual and consistent on every level,” said Smollett.

Despite everything he experienced and the many allegations against him, Smollett has continued performing. He performed his first event since the attack on February 2 in West Hollywood, California.

“I had to be here tonight, y’all. I can’t let them win. I have so many words in my heart. The most important thing I have to say is thank you so much and that I’m OK. I’m not fully healed yet, but I’m going to. And I’m gonna stand strong with y’all,” Smollett said.

A few weeks later on February 14,  Smollett appeared on “Good Morning America” in hopes of putting the doubts about him not being attacked to rest.

“You do such a disservice when you lie about something like this,” Smollett said.

Through video surveillance footage, Chicago PD was able to find two men walking down nearby streets of the place Smollett says he was attacked. They found the men caught on surveillance and found that one of the them worked on Empire. Both men were released from custody. February 20, Smollett was charged with disorderly conduct for allegedly filing a false police report about the attack. February 21, Smollett surrendered to police and was arrested. March 27, charges against Smollett were dropped by the district attorney.