When the original news broke that actor and artist Jussie Smollett was attacked in Chicago during filming of the popular TV show Empire, the narrative pointed to an act of hate crime. However, after new evidence and a thorough and ongoing investigation, this may not be the case.

The 36-year-old’s statement which included an account of two alleged perpetrators stringing a noose around Smollett’s neck and shouting “This is MAGA country” before dousing him in bleach was widely believed until police launched a full scaled exploration into the incident. As more information presensts itself, the evidence and witness testimony of the January 29th happening points to the event being carefully orchestrated by an unlikely party.

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The two people seen on camera around the time of the attack turned out to be Nigerian brothers who told detectives that Smollett had paid them $3,500 to participate in the alleged attack and that they purchased the rope — which was found around Smollett’s neck — at a nearby hardware store. With this new information, the Chicago Police Department released a statement Saturday night saying that testimony from the brothers had “shifted the trajectory of the investigation.” With that revelation, and the California native’s submission of edited phone call records among other inconsistencies, things are not looking good for Jussie.

While the inquiry is ongoing, what originally appeared to be an open and shut, black-and-white racially/sexually-motivated case has since turned into a nuanced situation where hard and developing evidence continues to surface.

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