Jussie Smollett, an actor in the hit television show Empire, was beaten in an alleged hate crime early last week. Smollett, who is black and openly gay, claimed to have been assaulted in Chicago last Tuesday by two men who poured what appeared to be bleach on him and draped a noose around his neck after repeatedly hitting and yelling racial and homophobic slurs at Smollett. Recently, however, Smollett has been accused by multiple sources of changing his original story and not being completely honest with the police.
Smollett returned to the stage one week after being cleared to perform by doctors in both Chicago and L.A., for a concert at the Troubadour Club in West Hollywood, California.
“I had to be here tonight, y’all, I couldn’t let [them] win,” Smollett said, according to CNN.
“Above all, I fought back.”
Smollett used the concert as an opportunity to clarify the situation, bring awareness to hate crimes worldwide, and to spread the message that those who stand together stand strong together. Although this was Smollett’s first appearance since the attack, it was not the first time he has spoken out against inequality.
“During times of trauma, grief and pain, there is still a responsibility to lead with love. It’s all I know,” Smollett said.
Smollett is self-admittedly a believer in the power of love, telling his fans that these acts of hatred ends with those who love not just themselves but everyone no matter who they are.
Taraji P. Henson, another actor on Empire stated on the Today Show, “I just told him to walk in his truth. To just stay the Smollett that everybody loves,” she said.
“You saw the outpour of love that he has. He’s touched a lot of people in his career. I just told him, ‘Walk in your truth, baby, no one can take that from you.’”
The only image that police obtained of Smollett was taken from a security camera inside a Subway Sandwich shop near the location of the attack in Chicago. He was seen standing alone in the picture.
Accusations of falsehood within Smollett’s story have accumulated as of late. Smollett reacted to the claims by saying that he has been fully cooperating with authorities in hopes of finding his attacker. The Smollett family issued a report after hearing these accusations. They supported Smollett, stating that he has been completely truthful since the assault last Tuesday.
“Despite my frustrations and deep concern with certain inaccuracies and misrepresentations that have been spread, I still believe that justice will be served,” Smollett commented.
“I can’t even believe that people have the heart to do something as terrible and small as this.”
Ola and Abel Osundairo, two brothers that worked very closely with Jussie on “Empire,” were suspected to be the men seen on surveillance footage leaving. Police raided the home of the brothers and took both into custody. The two brothers who were previously questioned by police spoke publicly for the first time.
In a statement to CBS Chicago, the brothers said, “We are not racist. We are not homophobic and we are not anti-Trump. We were born and raised in Chicago and are American citizens.”
Recently, however, it was revealed that Smollett paid the Osundarios $3500 to attack him in order to promote his career. Smollett has been taken into custody on charges of disorderly conduct for allegedly filing a false police report about being attacked on the street, according to Chicago police.
Smollett’s bond was set at $100,000 at a court hearing Thursday afternoon, during which the Cook County Circuit Court Judge John Fitzgerald Lyke Jr. also directed Smollett to surrender his passport. Risa Lanier, Chief of the Prosecution Bureau for the Cook County State’s Attorney Office, outlined the state’s case against Smollett after the hearing. Jussie is now facing up to 3 years in prison.