Police: Smollett sent racist letter to himself

CHICAGO (AP) – The Latest on the attack reported by Jussie Smollett (all times local):

11:55 p.m.

A spokeswoman for Jussie Smollett’s attorneys says they may speak to reporters about the criminal case against the “Empire” actor after a bond hearing later Thursday.

Anne Kavanagh said defense lawyers Todd Pugh and Victor Henderson didn’t have any immediate reaction to the Thursday morning news conference in which police laid out the case against Smollett.

Police say the 36-year-old actor hired two brothers to help him stage a Jan. 29 attack against himself. Smollett, who is black and gay, reported that two masked men attacked him as he was walking home early that morning and made racist and homophobic comments while they beat him.

Smollett surrendered Thursday on a charge of felony disorder conduct. His bond hearing is set for Thursday afternoon.

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11:40 p.m.

The head of the Chicago police force says that as a black man who has spent his entire life in the city and knows its racial divides, he doesn’t understand how anyone, especially a black man, could use the symbolism of a noose to make false accusations.

Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said Thursday while outlining the case against “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett that bogus police reports harm “every legitimate victim who’s in need of support” and every resident of the city.

Johnson noted that Chicago hosts one of the world’s largest gay pride parades each June and said the city and police are proud of that and “do not tolerate hate in this city.”

Smollett surrendered Thursday on a charge of felony disorder conduct.

Police say the actor, who is black and gay, hired the two brothers who are also black to stage what the actor reported was a racist and homophobic attack against him early on Jan. 29 in downtown Chicago.

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11:15 a.m.

The studio behind the hit television show “Empire” says it is “evaluating the situation” regarding the charges against actor Jussie Smollett and is “considering our options.”

20th Century Fox Television and Fox Entertainment issued a statement Thursday saying, “We understand the seriousness of this matter and we respect the legal process. We are evaluating the situation and we are considering our options.”

Smollett surrendered Thursday on a charge of felony disorder conduct.

Police say the actor, who is black and gay, hired the two brothers, who are also black, to stage what the actor reported was a racist and homophobic attack against him early on Jan. 29 in downtown Chicago. Johnson alleges that the reported attack was a “publicity stunt” that Smollett concocted because he was unhappy about his salary.

Police said the brothers aren’t considered suspects, but they didn’t elaborate.

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11 a.m.

Chicago’s police superintendent, Eddie Johnson, says investigators have phone records that show there were extensive communications between Smollett and two brothers before and after he says they helped the actor stage an attack against himself last month.

Johnson said at a news conference Thursday that the records show calls even while the brothers were in Nigeria after the staged attack early on Jan. 29.

Police say the brothers left on a trip to Nigeria right after the attack and were detained at the airport upon their return to Chicago on Feb. 13.

Johnson says the phone records “clearly indicate” that Smollett and the brothers talked to each other before and after the incident, including while the two were abroad.

Police said the brothers are not considered suspects, but they didn’t elaborate.

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10:45 a.m.

President Donald Trump says “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett insulted millions with his “racist and dangerous comments.”

Chicago police said Thursday that Smollett staged a racist and homophobic attack against him last month because he was unhappy with his salary and wanted publicity. Smollett, who is black and gay, plays a gay character on the hit Fox television show. He reported Jan. 29 that he was attacked while walking home from a sandwich shop.

Smollett claimed masked men beat him, made derogatory comments and yelled “This is MAGA country” – an apparent reference to Trump’s “Make America Great Again” campaign slogan.

Smollett surrendered Thursday on a charge of felony disorder conduct.

Trump tweeted Thursday to Smollett: “What about MAGA and the tens of millions of people you insulted with your racist and dangerous comments!? #MAGA.”

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10:35 a.m.

Chicago police Superintendent says that among the evidence investigators have that “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett staged the attack against him is a $3,500 check he allegedly paid two brothers to help him.

Johnson said Thursday at a news conference that the brothers punched Smollett with gloves on during the Jan. 29 attack, but that investigators believe scratches and bruises on the actor’s face were likely self-inflicted.

Smollett surrendered Thursday on a charge of felony disorder conduct.

Police say the actor, who is black and gay, hired the two brothers, who are also black, to carry out the scheme. Johnson alleges that the reported attack was a “publicity stunt” that Smollett concocted because he was unhappy about his salary.

Police said the brothers aren’t considered suspects, but they didn’t elaborate.

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10:15 a.m.

Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson says “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett owes the city an apology.

Johnson ended a Thursday news conference about the charges against Smollett by saying justice would be for the 36-year-old actor to apologize, admit what he did and “then be man enough to offer what he should offer up in terms of all the resources that were put into this.”

Smollett surrendered Thursday at central booking on a charge of felony disorder conduct.

Police say Smollett, who is black and gay, paid two brothers who are also black to help him stage a racist and homophobic attack against him on Jan. 29.

Johnson says investigators think Smollett had hoped that the fake attack would be captured by one of the city’s many security cameras, but that didn’t happen. He says the camera at the location where the attack happened wasn’t pointed in that direction.9:20 a.m.

Chicago police Superintendent Eddie Johnson says “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett “took advantage of the pain and anger of racism to promote his career.”

Johnson also said at a news conference Thursday that Smollett sent a racist and homophobic threatening letter to himself at the Fox studio lot before the attack. He says Smollett was dissatisfied with his salary.

Smollett, who is accused of filing a false police report, was charged Wednesday with felony disorder conduct. He turned himself in at central booking early Thursday.

Smollett told police he was attacked by two masked men as he was walking home from a Subway sandwich shop at around 2 a.m on Jan. 29. The actor, who is black and gay, said they beat him, made racist and homophobic comments, poured some unknown chemical substance on him and looped a rope around his neck before fleeing.

Police say the investigation shifted after they questioned two brothers who were in the area that morning.

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5:50 a.m.

Chicago police say “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett has turned himself in to face a charge of making a false police report when he said he was attacked in downtown Chicago by two men who hurled racist and anti-gay slurs and looped a rope around his neck.

Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi tells The Associated Press that Smollett turned himself in early Thursday at central booking. Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson plans to hold a morning news conference and Smollett is expected to appear in court later in the day.

The 36-year-old actor was charged Wednesday.

The charge could bring up to three years in prison. It could also force the actor, who’s black and gay, to pay for the cost of the investigation into his report of a Jan. 29 beating.

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12 a.m.

Less than a month ago, “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett was the seemingly sympathetic victim of a hate crime. Now he’s accused of a felony.

The 36-year-old actor was charged Wednesday with making a false police report when he told authorities he was attacked last month in Chicago by two men who hurled racist, anti-gay slurs and looped a rope around his neck.

The charge could bring up to three years in prison. It could also force the actor, who is black and gay, to pay for the cost of the investigation into his report of a Jan. 29 beating.

A police spokesman says authorities are trying to negotiate Smollett’s surrender.

Doubts about Smollett’s account started with reports that he had not fully cooperated with police.

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