Police: No Footage Yet Showing ‘Empire’ Actor Being Attacked

Don Babwin, AP, January 30, 2019

Detectives have reviewed surveillance footage of “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett walking to a downtown Chicago apartment after an early-morning visit to a Subway restaurant, but none of it showed an attack on the actor, a police official said Wednesday.

Investigators “for the most part” can confirm the route Smollett took early Tuesday when he says he was attacked by two masked men along a street in the Streeterville neighborhood, police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said. However, there are gaps and none of the footage police have reviewed shows an attack, he said.

Smollett, who is black and gay and who plays the gay character Jamal Lyon on the hit Fox television show, said the men beat him, subjected him to racist and homophobic insults, threw an “unknown chemical substance” on him and put a thin rope around his neck before fleeing.

Guglielmi said detectives who are investigating the allegations as a possible hate crime have looked at hundreds of hours of surveillance video from businesses and hotels in the heavily monitored area. But he said they still need to collect and view more. He said they are expanding the search to include footage from public buses and buildings beyond the scene’s immediate vicinity in the hopes of spotting the men who match Smollett’s description of the suspects.

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{snip} Bobby Rush, a Democratic congressman from Chicago, issued a statement calling on the agency [the FBI] to conduct “an immediate and sweeping civil rights investigation into the racist and homophobic attack.”

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Some of the outrage stems from Smollett’s account to detectives that his attackers yelled that he was in “MAGA country,” an apparent reference to the Trump campaign’s “Make America Great Again” slogan, which some critics of the president have decried as racist and discriminatory.

Chicago has one of the most sophisticated and extensive video surveillance systems in the U.S., with thousands of cameras on street poles, skyscrapers, buses and in train tunnels.

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