(EDITOR’S NOTE, 2/21/19, 3:06 PM ET: The Chicago Police Department has charged Jussie Smollett with a class 4 felony for filing a false police report, which carries a penalty of one to three years in prison. He has been asked to publicly apologize and compensate the police department for resources expended during the course of the investigation.)
New details are emerging in the investigation into the alleged attack on “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett in Chicago last month.
Ola and Abel Osundairo — the two Nigerian brothers initially suspected of being behind the alleged homophobic assault — are now cooperating with Chicago police in the investigation, and are no longer being charged with a crime. CBS News reported Saturday evening that the Osundairo brothers say Smollett paid them to stage the attack, and that they bought the rope used as a noose, which Smollett still had on his neck when officers arrived on the scene.
Additionally, the Osundairo brothers have both appeared on “Empire” as extras and are supporters of the LGBTQ community, according to TMZ. Sources also told the outlet that Abel worked on the set of the show as recently as January.
“They’re considered family on the set … well-known and well-liked by cast and crew,” TMZ reported.
As Grit Post initially reported, Smollett said he was attacked by two men who allegedly yelled “this is MAGA country,” in reference to President Trump’s campaign slogan, and used racial slurs as they allegedly beat him, put a noose around his neck, and poured bleach on him.
Chicago police now say the investigation has shifted. Attorneys representing Smollett stated Saturday evening that any suggestion that Smollett paid anyone to stage an attack on him are false, and that he remains willing to cooperate with police in the investigation.
“Jussie Smollett is angered and devastated by recent reports that the perpetrators are individuals he is familiar with,” his legal team stated. “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.”
New statement from Jussie Smollett’s attorneys “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.” pic.twitter.com/6YaB6WSJN7
— Joshua Hoyos (@JoshuaHoyos) February 17, 2019
Whether or not Smollett had a role in the alleged attack is still under investigation. However, the fact remains that extremist violence is on the rise in the United States — particularly against the LGBTQ community — and shows no signs of slowing down. In 2016, 49 people at the predominantly LGBTQ Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida were killed in a mass shooting. The Human Rights Campaign reported that 22 transgender people were killed in America in 2018, and a total of 128 transgender people have been killed in the last five years.
Tom Cahill is a contributor for Grit Post who covers political and economic news. He lives in Bend, Oregon. Send him an email at tom DOT v DOT cahill AT gmail DOT com.