It has been a little over two weeks since Empire actor Jussie Smollett first reported to police that he had been the victim of a disgusting homophobic and racist physical assault at the hands of two men who allegedly yelled, “MAGA country” during the attack. Smollett has since returned to the public purview, making appearances at music venues to perform for his fans and on television programs to discuss his attack. Unfortunately, leads concerning the case have thus far been few and far between, with authorities making only slight progress towards bringing Smollett’s alleged attackers to justice.

On the morning of February 14th, Smollett made an appearance on Good Morning America, in an interview hosted by GMA anchor Robin Roberts. In the interview, Smollett tells Roberts that he hesitated to call the police initially because:

There’s a level of pride there. We live in a society where as a gay man you are considered somehow to be weak and I’m not weak. I am not weak and we as a people are not weak.

He goes on to detail the immediate aftermath of the attack to Roberts:

During that time before [police] came, it took them maybe a half hour to come, and during that time, I was looking at myself, just checking myself out. I saw the bruise on my neck, you know, like the rope burn around my neck. But I smelled bleach. I know the smell of bleach. And I saw on my sweatshirt, it had marks on it, like spots on it, when you have a bad bleach job. Then I was like ‘There’s bleach on me too.’ So when the police came, I kept the clothes on. I kept the rope on.

Roberts: So you had the rope on the entire time?

It wasn’t like wrapped around, but it was around. Because I wanted them to see, I wanted them to see what this was. I told them what happened, everything. I also asked them to turn their body cams off because they were trying to stay in the hallway. I was like ‘Please just come in. I don’t want to a big scene with my neighbors.’ And with the second round of police officers, I went down to where it happened and I walked them through exactly what happened. And I looked up and I saw that there was a camera, directly on the light post that is in the intersection. So, I’m like, there it is. And then the detective told me that the camera inside of the casing was facing north, so they didn’t have it, and that was disappointing.

Smollett also explains his frustration with those who doubt his story, claiming to Roberts:

It feels like, if I had said ‘It was a Muslim’, or ‘a Mexican’, or ‘someone black’, I feel like the doubters would have supported me a lot more. And that says a lot about the place where we are in our country right now.

At one point, Roberts touches upon the doubts raised by Smollett’s refusal to turn over his phone, to which Smollett explains why he made the refusal:

They wanted me to give my phone to the tech, for three to four hours. I’m sorry, but, I’m not going to do that. Because I have private pictures, and videos, and numbers, my partners number, my family’s number, my castmate’s number, my friends’ numbers, my private e-mails, my private songs, my private voice memos. I don’t know what that’s going to be, to hand over my phone for. And honestly, by then, inaccurate, false statements had already been put out there.

When asked by Roberts if he had any suspicions as to why he targeted, Smollett replied that it may be because of his vocal opposition to President Donald Trump:

I come really, really hard against 45. I come really, really hard against his administration. And I don’t hold my tongue.

Following Smollett’s interview, investigators announced a break in the case. The Chicago Police revealed that they were questioning two people in connection with Smollett’s attack after the two people of interest were picked up Wednesday morning at Chicago O’Hare International Airport. A spokesperson for the Chicago Police Department, Anthony Guglielmi was quick to remind the public that these were not suspects but were in the area of the attack and were being questioned:

Shortly after this announcement, further details broke in the case as police continued their investigation. According to WGN Investigates, the men questioned by police were both African-American, with one having a connection to Empire:

CWB Chicago, an independent news organization based out of the North Side of Chicago, claims to have received a tip one week prior to February 14th from someone claiming that the perpetrators were friends of Smollett, and that police have known the identities of Smollett’s attacker for some time:

CWBChicago claims to have received this tip regarding the Smollett investigation a week prior to the GMA interview.

Charlie De Mar, a reporter for CBS Chicago, broke the news that police had raided the home of the two men in question, securing among other items bleach, shoes, and a red hat (it is currently unknown if the hat recovered is a Make America Great Again hat):

The family whose home was raided believes that the two men were persons of interest due to the fact that they left for Nigeria on the day of the attack:

In an update on Thursday evening, ABC 7 Chicago’s Rob Elgas reported that, according to multiple sources, the attack was staged by Smollett and the two men due to Smollett’s character being written out of Empire:

Elgas also noted that Smollett was absent today for a scheduled interview with the authorities:

However, according to Guglielmi, these reports are currently unconfirmed by case detectives:

As of writing, the investigation is still ongoing. At this time, no one has been charged and the police have not detailed a conclusive narrative of events.

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  • About The Author

    Spencer Baculi
    Associate Editor

    Spencer is the Associate Editor for Bounding Into Comics. An unabashed and life-long anime fan, comic book reader, and avid video game player, Spencer believes in supporting every claim with evidence and that Wally West is the best Flash of all time. He can be found on Twitter @kabutoridermav.

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