Chicago Police superintendent Eddie Johnson announced during a Thursday press conference that Empire actor Jussie Smollett hired two men to stage a racially motivated attack on him in order to advance his career and increase his earnings.
Upon taking the stage, Johnson immediately expressed regret that Chicago’s victims of gun violence do not receive the same media attention that was afforded to Smollett’s story. He then condemned the actor’s willingness to cynically use the history of racism in America to advance his career.
“Smollett took advantage of the pain and anger of racism to promote his career,” Johnson said. “This publicity stunt was a scar that Chicago didn’t earn, and certainly didn’t deserve.”
Johnson went on to explain that the two Nigerian brothers hired by Smollett to carry out the hoax told police he hoped the staged attack would be financially beneficial.
“The stunt was orchestrated by Smollett because he was dissatisfied with his salary,” Johnson said.
Smollett turned himself in early Thursday morning after being charged with disorderly conduct, a class-four felony that typically results in a sentence of anywhere between probation and three years in prison.
Johnson also confirmed reports that Smollett first attempted to claim victimhood status by sending himself a threatening letter that included racist, homophobic, and politically charged language. When the letter, which was accompanied by white powder, failed to elicit the reaction Smollett hoped for, he paid the brothers, one of whom worked on Empire, $3,500 to stage an attack on him early on the morning of January 29.