“Empire” star Jussie Smollett is striking out at his doubters, accusing them of being racist for having suspicions about the details of his alleged attack.
Last month, the openly gay TV actor reported to police that he had been approached by two men in ski masks as he was making a middle-of-the-night Subway restaurant run in Chicago. He said the two men asked him if he was the actor from “Empire, and then started yelling racist and anti-gay slurs at him.
“This is MAGA country!” one of them reportedly shouted before punching him in the face
Smollett gave more details during an appearance on “Good Morning America” that was aired Thursday, according to Fox News. He said he punched his attackers back.
"It was very icy," Smollett recalled. "We ended up tussling by the stairs, just fighting, fighting."
He added that he been on his cellphone with his manager right before the attack. He said that his call continued during the attack as he placed the phone in his pocket. The phone, he said, dropped out of his pocket, but his manager says he could still hear what was going on.
Smollett said the second attacker kicked him in the back before the assault “just stopped and they ran off, and I saw where they ran." He said that’s when he noticed that bleach had been poured on his head and a thin rope had been looped around his neck.
Doubts have arisen, though, because of some of the difficult-to-explain details of the alleged attack. Neither Smollett nor his manager called 911 until 40 minutes after the attack. Despite a preponderance of surveillance cameras in that part of the city, none captured the attack. Smollett himself is shown after the alleged assault walking down the street with the rope, which he kept around his neck until police arrived at his apartment a while later.
Police asked Smollett to show him his phone records to reveal the timing of the attack and his call with his manager, but the actor handed them a heavily redacted PDF version.
"They wanted me to give my phone to the tech for three to four hours,” he explained to GMA. “I'm sorry, but I'm not going to do that. I have private pictures and videos, my partner's numbers, my costars' numbers ... I don't know what that's going to be to hand over my phone."
Chicago police found the two persons of interest spotted in surveillance footage near where the suspected attack occurred.
Police are questioning them but have not named them as suspects yet, according to Fox 32 Chicago reporter Rafer Weigel.
Smollett has also hired the same PR firm Harvey Weinstein has used, leading people to wonder why a victim of an attack feels the need for that much PR help.
Now Smollett is claiming that people who have doubts about his story “don’t even went to see the truth,” The Week reported. He took that a step further by implying that they’re racist.
“I feel like if I had said it was a Muslim, a Mexican or someone black, I feel like the doubters would support me a lot more," he said, insinuating that his attackers were white even though their skin was covered in cold-weather clothing, ski masks, and gloves. "And I feel like that's an issue in our country right now."
That doesn’t sound like a good PR move. A new report is lending a little more credibility to Smollett’s story, though. Chicago said they didn’t find a half-empty hot sauce bottle with a liquid that smelled like bleach near the location of the alleged attack, ABC 7 Chicago reported.