Here’s A Timeline Of The Jussie Smollett Attack Scandal

By now you’ve probably heard about the Jussie Smollett incident that took place in Chicago a few weeks ago. Naturally, people and news outlets across the country were outraged at what seemed like a homophobic and racially motivated attack on the TV star. Unfortunately, new information has since come to light through an investigation by the Chicago police that points to the entire attack being a hoax, which sucks for so many reasons its hard to even name them all here. Because this case has been so confusing, here’s a breakdown of everything you need to know, plus a timeline of events since the alleged attack last month.

Who Is Jussie Smollett?

Jussie Smollett is a queer biracial actor and singer who is most famous for playing Jamal Lyon in Empire. (Though, if what the Chicago PD say is true is true then that probably won’t be what he’s most famous for any longer.) The Smollett family consists of a long line of both actors and activists, and have been outspoken politically on causes such as HIV/AIDS prevention, ending apartheid, and more recently, Black Lives Matter. Unrelated but still interesting: Jussie Smollett was also in The Mighty Ducks.

WTF Has Been Going On?

Great question. Here’s a timeline of the events surrounding the attack, as well as information as it unfolded.

January 22: Before the attack , Smollett received a threatening letter to the set of Empire containing white powder that said “You will die black n*****.” The powder turned out to be crushed Tylenol.

January 28th:  Smollett was hospitalized after being attacked by who he recalled to be two white men yelling racist and homophobic slurs at him. In his report to the police, he said they screamed “This is MAGA country” and called him a f**got Empire n*****.”

January 30th: Two days later Chicago police release the images of two persons of interest in the attack.

February 1st: Smollett makes the following statement to Essence:

“Let me start by saying that I’m OK. My body is strong but my soul is stronger. More importantly I want to say thank you. The outpouring of love and support from my village has meant more than I will ever be able to truly put into words. ”

He also doubles down on saying he is being factual and works to dispel rumors about the incident.

February 13th: Two Nigerian brothers are arrested in connection with the attack. This raises questions because Smollett had noted earlier that his attackers were white.

February 14th: Smollett gives the following interview to Good Morning America:

February 18th: Starting after the GMA interview,  rumors begin to circulate and sources close to the Chicago PD begin leaking that the attacks were orchestrated and Smollett lied. This caused high profile people, like Cory Booker and Kamala Harris, who previously condemned the attacks to make a statement that they were reserving judgement until more facts came out.

February 19: Deadline reports that Smollett is cut from Empire episodes.

February 20th: The Chicago Police department confirms that Smollett is officially a suspect in his own attack. He is charged with disorderly conduct for filing a false report.

February 21st: Smollett turned himself over to Chicago police and was arrested in the early hours of the morning. In a news conference, Chicago police Superintendent Eddie Johnson says police believe Smollett faked bot h the letter and the attack because he was “dissatisfied with this salary.”

Wow. This whole story is obviously a huge, tumultuous rollercoaster and people are understandably hurt and confused. But let’s make one thing clear: no one should feel bad for having initially believed these reports, even if they end up being false. We’re human and when we hear of someone being violently attacked, we believe that person because the vast majority of crimes are not falsely reported.

If you or someone you know is the victim of a hate crime, you can find resources to help you here.

Heads up, you need to keep up with the news. It’s not cute anymore. That’s why we’ve created a 5x weekly newsletter called The ‘Sup that will explain all the news of the week in a hilarious af way. Because if we weren’t laughing, we’d be crying. Sign up for The ‘Sup now!

‘Empire’ Actor Jussie Smollett Attacked In An Apparent Hate Crime

The fact that it’s 2019 and hate crimes are still happening is devastating to report, but “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett was brutally attacked yesterday morning. Smollett, 35, was reportedly just walking down the street (how dare he) in Chicago, when two people began to shout racist and homophobic slurs at the actor. Smollett plays a gay character on “Empire” and is openly gay in real life since coming out in an interview with Ellen DeGeneres in 2015.

The chief of Chicago police announced the attack to Twitter, where some trolls have already decided to diminish and question the truth of Smollett’s suffering.

Statement on #ChicagoPolice hate crime investigation. We are taking these allegations very seriously and encourage anyone with information to report anonymously to

— Anthony Guglielmi (@AJGuglielmi) January 29, 2019

The attackers hit him in the face, reportedly shouted, “This is MAGA country,” poured an “unknown substance” all over him (which has been suspected to be bleach) and tied a rope around his neck. After the attack, Smollett went to an apartment where his manager called the police. Considering a crime brought about by hate and ignorance could happen to a celebrity is just further indication that hate crimes are still happening to regular people every day. Hate crimes are largely underreported and of the more than 7,100 recorded incidents spurned by prejudice in 2017, about 60% were attacks on race, ethnicity and ancestry while 16% were on sexual orientation.

Since the news has broken, many fans and celebrities have offered words of support for Smollett. Lee Daniels posted a video to Instagram emphasizing that he didn’t deserve this, and that America is better than this.


View this post on Instagram


We got this @jussiesmollett ????????????????????

A post shared by Lee Daniels (@theoriginalbigdaddy) on

Cory Booker called the incident a “modern day lynching” on Twitter and pointed to an anti-lynching bill he worked on that you’d think would have been passed in like…1892 but whatever okay we’re just getting to it now. It’s also important to remember here that both of Smollett’s parents, Janet and Joel Smollett Jr., were Civil Rights activists.

The vicious attack on actor Jussie Smollett was an attempted modern-day lynching. I’m glad he’s safe.

To those in Congress who don’t feel the urgency to pass our Anti-Lynching bill designating lynching as a federal hate crime– I urge you to pay attention.

— Cory Booker (@CoryBooker) January 29, 2019

2020 candidate Kamala Harris also came out in support of Smollett, similarly calling the attack against Smollett a “modern day lynching,” as did fellow 2020 hopeful Kirsten Gillibrand.

.@JussieSmollett is one of the kindest, most gentle human beings I know. I’m praying for his quick recovery.

This was an attempted modern day lynching. No one should have to fear for their life because of their sexuality or color of their skin. We must confront this hate.

— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) January 29, 2019

This is a sickening and outrageous attack, and horribly, it’s the latest of too many hate crimes against LGBTQ people and people of color. We are all responsible for condemning this behavior and every person who enables or normalizes it. Praying for Jussie and his family.

— Kirsten Gillibrand (@SenGillibrand) January 29, 2019

President Trump has yet to comment on the attacks, because he was too busy tweeting stuff like this:

A low level staffer that I hardly knew named Cliff Sims wrote yet another boring book based on made up stories and fiction. He pretended to be an insider when in fact he was nothing more than a gofer. He signed a non-disclosure agreement. He is a mess!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 29, 2019

In the celebrity world, many have come out in support of Smollett including comedian Kevin Hart, whose support is being criticized online in light of his recent homophobic tweets controversy.


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Sending prayers your way @jussiesmollett ….This is unbelievably sad. Why are we going backwards….this is disgusting. We as people have to do better. WTF is going on the world???? Why are we falling in love with hate???? God damn it people….Choose love…I repeat…Choose love. I will forever choose love and I will continue to teach my kids how to do the same. Stand strong brother

A post shared by Kevin Hart (@kevinhart4real) on

While Hart is probably being genuine in his support of Smollett, attacks like this are an upsetting reminder that ignorant people are always listening, and if it seems ok for celebrities to use violence against the LGBT community for jokes online, others might see that as a green light to enact said violence in real life.

If you are the victim of a hate crime or want to help those who are VictimConnect, the Human Rights Campaign, and Hate Crime Help are available to help.

Heads up, you need to keep up with the news. It’s not cute anymore. That’s why we’ve created a 5x weekly newsletter called The ‘Sup that will explain all the news of the week in a hilarious af way. Because if we weren’t laughing, we’d be crying. Sign up for The ‘Sup now!