Stars React Amidst Reports That Jussie Smollet Attack Might Have Been Staged

The Jussie Smollett case just keeps getting more and more twisted by the day.

If you aren’t all caught up, here’s what’s been going down.

On January 29th, Empire actor Smollett claimed that he had been attacked around 2 a.m. in the Streeterville neighborhood of Chicago. He told police that two men had beat him up as they shouted homophobic slurs and “this is MAGA country.” The men also allegedly tied a rope around Smollett’s neck and poured an unknown substance on him.

Doubts Surrounding the Attack

Initially, there were no suspects in the case as video evidence of the attack could not be found. Last week two brothers were arrested in connection with the assault, however they were released on Friday.

What’s weird about the whole thing is that one of the brothers apparently has worked on Empire and the two told police that Smollett actually paid them to attack him.

They told detectives that they even bought the rope that was around Smollett’s neck at a nearby hardware store and police are now checking the validity of the story.

Since this news broke, the police have changed their investigation.

“We can confirm that the information received from the individuals questioned by police earlier in the Empire case has in fact shifted the trajectory of the investigation,” said Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi in an email statement. “We’ve reached out to the Empire cast member’s attorney to request a follow-up interview.”

On Saturday, Smollett’s attorneys, Todd S. Pugh and Victor P. Henderson issued a statement regarding the allegations.

“As a victim of a hate crime who has cooperated with the police investigation, Jussie Smollett is angered and devastated by recent reports that the perpetrators are individuals he is familiar with,” the statement read. “He has now been further victimized by claims attributed to these alleged perpetrators that Jussie played a role in his own attack. Nothing is further from the truth and anyone claiming otherwise is lying.”

The statement went on to say that there was no way the brothers could have been the ones involved in the attack.

“One of these purported suspects was Jussie’s personal trainer who he hired to ready him physically for a music video. It is impossible to believe that this person could have played a role in the crime against Jussie or would falsely claim Jussie’s complicity.”

Stars’ Reactions

Since the news of the attack broke, stars had been taking to social media to share their support for Smollett. But now, as new evidence comes to the light, not all celebrities are singing the same tune.

“Despite the inconsistencies, I can’t blindly believe Chicago PD. The department that covered up shooting Laquan McDonald over a dozen times?” famed director Ava DuVernay tweeted. “That operated an off-site torture facility? That one? I’ll wait. Whatever the outcome, this won’t stop me from believing others. It can’t.”

Though Author Roxane Gay was upset by the news, she, like DuVernay, said that it will not stop her from believing victims.

“I’m not going to stop believing people who say they have suffered,” she tweeted. “Because more often than not they are telling the truth.”

Others haven’t been so forgiving.

“Jussie Smollett put people’s lives at risk and could have created a situation that was much more damaging to those who are African-American and those who do identify with the LGBTQ community,” Project Islamic Hope Director and CEO Najee Ali told Deadline.

“We have many members of the black community and the LGBTQ community who have been the victims of hate crimes. So for Smollett to say that he was a victim of racism and hate crimes — and we believe that is a lie — certainly is an injustice to those true victims of racism and hate crimes,” he continued.

The investigation is still ongoing.

Read more: Who is Jussie Smollett’s Sister Jurnee Smollett-Bell?

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