Fox 32 Chicago reporter Rafer Weigel called Thursday’s presser about “Empire” star Jussie Smollett one of the most dramatic he’s seen.
“I’ve covered press conferences with @Chicago_Police Supt Eddie Johnson before. That was the most demonstrative I’ve seen him,” Weigel wrote.
The emotion was apparent as Johnson verbally ripped Smollett to shreds for allegedly creating and perpetuating a hoax about a hate crime. Late last month, the openly gay black actor claimed he was attacked in Chicago by two white President Trump supporters who recognized him from “Empire,” shouted racist and anti-gay slurs at him, and yelled “This is MAGA country!” while physically assaulting him, pouring bleach on his head, and looping a rope around his neck.
Now he’s in Chicago Police custody, charged with a felony count for filing a false police report after his two suspected accomplices, Nigerian brothers who were extras on his show, testified against him to a grand jury. Smollett is suspected of orchestrating a fake attack and even writing a fake threatening letter to himself.
“As I look out at the crowd, I just wish that the families of gun violence in this city got this much attention because that’s who really deserves the amount of attention we’re giving to this particular incident,” Johnson began during his Thursday morning press conference.
Addressing the struggles the city of Chicago has had over the years with racism, the black police superintendent said, “Jussie Smollett took advantage of the pain and anger of racism to promote his career. I’m left hanging my head and asking why.”
“Why would anyone, especially an African-American man, use the symbolism of a noose to make false accusations?” he asked. “How could someone look at the hate and suffering associated with that symbol and see an opportunity to manipulate that symbol to further his own public profile.”
“How can an individual who has been embraced by the city of Chicago turn around and slap everyone in this city in the face by making these false claims?”
After blasting the actor for harming victims of real crimes, Johnson said he is “offended by what’s happened and I’m also angry.”
“This publicity stunt was a scar Chicago didn’t earn and certainly didn’t deserve,” he continued. “To make things worse, the accusations within this phony attack received national attention for weeks. Celebrities, news commentators, and even presidential candidates weighed in on something that was choreographed by an actor.”
He said Smollett devised the phony attack after the racist, anti-gay, and pro-Trump threatening letter he sent to him failed to get him the publicity he desired. He added that the actor paid the Osundairo brothers $3,500 to help him pull off the hoax.
“This stunt was orchestrated by Smollett because he was dissatisfied with his salary,” he said, also calling the actor’s actions “egregious and untrue” and “simply shameful.”
Smollett was making $65,000 an episode, according to CNBC, which adds up to over $1 million a year.
Police also released a map of Smollett’s movements on the night of the attack, revealed that Smollett and the Osundairo brothers were calling each other before and after the attack, and said that it’s believed that Smollett intended a surveillance camera to capture the attack.
Smollett’s lawyers continue to insist that he’s innocent and tried to shift the entire blame onto the Nigerian Osundairo brothers.
“@JussieSmollett — what about MAGA and the tens of millions of people you insulted with your racist and dangerous comments!?” Trump tweeted at Smollett.
Other people reacted as well.
And then there was the hilarious reaction to reports that Smollett paid the Nigerian brothers with a personal check.