Actor Jussie Smollett continues to deny the claim that he staged an alleged hate crime attack in January 2019.
“All I can do is know that out of all these jokers in this entire situation, I am the only human being who has not changed his story one time in order to fit someone’s agenda,” he told Temple University media studies Professor and CNN political contributor Marc Lamont Hill in an interview published Wednesday.
You can watch it in the player above beginning at about the 40-minute mark.
He said that there was no reason for him to do something like this, and that if the allegations were true, “the smart thing to do would be to admit that because at least there would be a place to work back from, you know what I’m saying. This is bullshit. It’s bullshit.”
Police claim the actor made up the incident as a publicity stunt because he was unhappy with his pay on the show Empire.
Smollett previously told ABC‘s Robin Roberts that he was out in Chicago getting food at night. Someone called out “Empire,” in this account. He did not answer this. The person cursed him out. An alleged attacker–who was masked–said, “This MAGA country,” and punched Smollett. They fought. A second person kicked Smollett in the back, according to this story. The suspects ran off, he said.
In the chaos, they put a rope about his neck, and put bleach on him. The actor, who is Black and gay, said the men used racist and homophobic slurs. There were two other witnesses who saw white men, he told Hill.
But police stopped treating him as the alleged victim. They said he recruited two brothers–Abimbola and Olabinjo Osundairo, who are also Black–to stage the assault. Since then the case has been pretty much been moving like a seesaw, with prosecutors controversially and suddenly dropping the felony false reporting case against Smollett.
From there, then-Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel demanded Smollett pay the city for the time spent on the investigation. Next, a judge appointed a special prosecutor to investigate the circumstances surrounding the decision to drop the case against Smollett. That prosecutor, Dan Webb, brought back the hoax case against Smollett in Feb. 2020. Meanwhile, the Osundairo brothers reportedly stopped cooperating because of dispute over their possessions seized by police.
“There is an example being made,” Smollett told Hill about the case. He asserted police and prosecutors were funded and promoted based on simply winning cases rather than the truth, leading to people being falsely convicted.
[Screengrab via Marc Lamont Hill]
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