When news of a racially / sexually motivated attack on the star of one of television’s most popular shows broke out, the nation was drawn into a heated conversation about race, politics, and the divisions along political lines. Now that the story is over and it turned out to be a hoax, we thought it would be a good idea to post the whole thing in chronological order so that there’s no spinning on what actually happened – with plenty of memes mixed in, though.
January 22: Jussie Smollett reports to police that he received a threatening letter laced with a powdery substance. Investigators reveal that it was crushed up Tylenol.
January 29: Smollett is attacked as he’s returning to his apartment in Chicago from a late night trip to Subway. Claims that his attackers poured bleach on him, wrapped a noose around his neck, and told him that he’s in “MAGA Country.” Police report that they’re looking for two “persons of interest” and release footage of the attackers, but details of what they look like can’t be deciphered. Everyone assumes they’re white. The story was initially called out as a lie by some on the right who were then called racist for doubting it. (Note the date on the Tweet below).
January 30: Smollet’s family releases statement describing the attack as a hate crime – because the perpetrators were white, of course. “In the early hours of Tuesday morning, our beloved son and brother, Jussie, was the victim of a violent and unprovoked attack. We want to be clear, this was a racial and homophobic hate crime.” They include in the statement the words “We are hopeful they find these men and bring them to justice.” I cannot agree more!
February 1: Smollett thanks his fans and says, “I am working with authorities and have been 100% factual and consistent.” Then he addresses those on the right who doubted his story by adding, “Despite my frustrations and deep concern with certain inaccuracies and misrepresentations that have been spread, I still believe that justice will be served.” We hope so, Jussie! Justice needs to be served to all the criminals involved in this!
February 2: Smollett performs at the Troubadour in West Hollywood, California. Says on stage, again addressing those who were calling him a liar, “Regardless of what anyone says, I will only stand for love. We hope that you all stand with us.”
February 4: Initial incident report released by Chicago Police Department states that when police arrived at his home several hours later, that Mr. Smollett was still wearing the rope around his neck. The report also says that a friend of Smollett is the one that called the police because the actor “didn’t want to report the offense, but believed it to be in the best interest to.” Report’s details include that the attack happened at around 2 a.m. as he was leaving a Subway restaurant, that the two attackers wearing black masks and dressed all in black grabbed him, beat him with their hands, and yelled racist and homophobic slurs.
February 13: Chicago Police Department detained and arrested two “persons of interest” from Nigeria.
February 14: Jussie Smollett gives an interview to Good Morning America (image below). Smollett says he was heart broken when people questioned whether he was being honest about the story, especially because it wasn’t until follow up interviews with the police that he told police that the assailants were yelling “MAGA Country” at him during the attack and addressed confusion about whether he said to police that the attackers were wearing red MAGA hats.
February 14: During the ABC interview, Smollett said, “The idea that I somehow switched up my story, you know? And that somehow maybe I added a little extra trinket, you know, of the MAGA thing. I didn’t need to add anything like that. They called me a f—-, they called me a n—-. There’s no which way you cut it. I don’t need some MAGA hat as the cherry on top of some racist sundae.”
He also addressed one of the main reasons people doubted his story, which was his initial refusal to hand over his phone to police technicians. He said it was because “I have private pictures and videos and numbers, my partner’s number, my family’s number, my castmate’s numbers, my friends’ numbers, my private emails, my private songs, my private voice memos.”
February 14: (Same day, during the interview) Police execute search warrants on the homes of two individuals, seizing bleach, rope, shoes, and electronics.
February 15: Chicago police tells ABC news that the two “persons of interests” under arrest have a “relationship” with Smollett, refer to them as “potential suspects,” and that they have been released without charges.
February 16: Chicago police identify the two men as Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundairo, two US citizens of Nigerian descent. They confirmed that the two brothers have been released and that the police is now “eager to speak with Jussie Smollett” based on the new information they obtained after the interrogations.
February 16:Jussie Smollett’s attorney released the following statement
“As a victim of a hate crime who has cooperated with the police investigation, Jussie Smollett is angered and devastated by recent reports that the perpetrators are individuals he is familiar with. 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. One of these purported suspects was Jussie’s personal trainer who he hired to ready him physically for a music video. It is impossible to believe that this person could have played a role in the crime against Jussie or would falsely claim Jussie’s complicity.”
Absolutely, Reverend Al! This hate attack is despicable and outrageous! The guilty must face the maximum!