Executive producers of “Empire,” a television show that started beginning of 2015, has released a statement in which they have removed the role of “Jamal” in the final two episodes of the fifth season. Justin “Jussie” Smollett played Jamal, the middle son in the show, and has been relieved of his role for this season because of the allegations from the case starting in January.
On the 22nd of January, Smollett explained he received a threatening letter with the return address reading “MAGA.” A week later, he reported he was attacked by two men while getting food around 2 a.m. Not only does the actor play a gay character, but Smollett himself is gay as well. He reported he was attacked, with the men yelling racial and homophobic slurs, then later was hit and had a noose wrapped around his neck.
However, what caused his role to be removed from the last two episodes was the speculation that surrounds the circumstances of the alleged attack.
Police have analyzed surveillance footage, and even have captured Smollett walking along the streets, but no footage of the attack. According to the Chicago Tribune, “two persons were captured by a surveillance camera…[where] Smollett said he was attacked about 15 to 30 minutes later around the corner. The images, however, are dark, and faces indistinguishable.”
On February 1st, Smollett released a statement explaining that he is okay and has been “100 percent factual and consistent on every level.” However, despite some support from his family, and fans on social media, there has also been outrage and skepticism.
Smollett claimed the men that attacked him said Chicago was “MAGA country.” MAGA, stands for Make America Great Again, a slogan for President Trump. However, President Trump only garnered 12.5% approval from the city, making it questionable of the attackers motives. Additionally so, the weather wasn’t ideal either with temperatures below freezing. It was unlikely for someone to be getting a sandwich or for attackers to wait patiently for a specific individual with a noose.
The two suspects, brothers in their 20’s, from the surveillance camera were brought in for questioning on February 14th, with a source later revealing one of them was an extra on Empire. The police have neither confirmed nor denied the media reports that the attack was a hoax. A day later, the two brothers were released, no longer suspects.
On the 21st, Smollett was arrested for disorderly conduct for allegedly filing a false police report of the attack, a felony. His bail has been posted and regardless of the ruling, the attention this has brought to him has forever tainted his career.