A black US TV actor staged an attack against him which exploited the “pain” of racism in a publicity stunt which sullied the reputation of America’s third-largest city, police alleged Thursday.
“‘Empire’ actor Jussie Smollett took advantage of the pain and anger of racism to promote his career,” Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson told reporters.
“Smollett paid $3,500 to stage this attack and drag Chicago’s reputation through the mud in the process,” he said.
Smollett was arrested early Thursday, police said, and faces felony criminal charges of disorderly conduct and filing a false police report.
The alleged incident initially seemed an example of growing intolerance in the US and led to an outpouring of support for the actor. But over the following weeks, the 36-year-old went from victim to suspect.
He had claimed that on January 29, two masked men beat him late at night in downtown Chicago — a city grappling with a high number of gun crimes — while yelling racist and homophobic slurs. He also initially told police that the attackers poured bleach on him and tied a rope around his neck.