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Feb. 13, 2019, 9:16 PM GMT / Updated Feb. 14, 2019, 1:23 PM GMT
By Doha Madani and Elisha Fieldstadt
“Empire” actor Jussie Smollett said he is “pissed off” after critics cast doubt over his claims that he was the victim of an alleged hate crime last month.
Smollett filed a report with the Chicago Police Department on Jan. 29 stating that two men hurled racist and homophobic slurs before beating him. Smollett also told police his attackers poured a chemical, possibly bleach, over him and put a noose around his neck.
The Chicago Police Department said it is investigating the alleged attack as a possible hate crime.
The 36-year-old actor, who is openly gay, told ABC’s “Good Morning America” that he is angry about the attack and at people who do not believe his claims.
“It’s like, you know, at first, it was a thing of, like, ‘Listen, if I tell the truth then that’s it, ’cause it’s the truth,” Smollett said. “Then it became a thing of like, ‘Oh, how can you doubt that? Like, how do you — how do you not believe that? It’s the truth.'”
“And then it became a thing of like, ‘Oh, it’s not necessarily that you don’t believe that this is the truth, you don’t even want to see the truth,'” Smollett said.
“It feels like if I had said it was a Muslim or a Mexican or someone black, I feel like the doubters would have supported me a lot much more, and that says a lot about the place we are in our country right now,” Smollett told ABC News.
Social media users began to cast doubt over Smollett’s claims after police said they were not able to find footage of the alleged attack after going through a voluminous amount of recordings from the many surveillance cameras in the area.
“I want that video found so badly,” Smollett said. “I want them to stop being able to say ‘alleged attack.’ I want them to be able to see that I fought back. I want a little gay boy to see that I … fought back,” he said to ABC News.
Officials have released a picture of two “potential persons of interest” from a surveillance camera located near where Smollett says he was attacked.
Police said Smollett refused to turn over his phone and phone records to prove he was on the phone with his manager at the time of the attack. Smollett later gave investigators a PDF file containing a redacted list of his calls.
Smollett said he didn’t want to hand over his phone because he has “private pictures and videos and numbers,” and he was already wary because of the way some reacted to his account of the attack. “Inaccurate false statements had already been out there,” Smollett told ABC News.
One of those rumors was that Smollett has said his attackers were wearing MAGA hats. He said that’s not the case. “I don’t need some MAGA hat as the cherry on some kind of racist sundae,” Smollett said.
Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie T. Johnson has said he has no reason to believe Smollett is “not being genuine with” investigators.
The actor released a statement in the days following the alleged assault and said he was “working with authorities, and have been 100 percent factual and consistent on every level.”
“I will never be the man that this did not happen to,” Smollett said on Good Morning America. “I’m forever changed.”