Chicago police have arrested two men in connection with the attack on Empire actor Jussie Smollett.
Police initially questioned the men, identified only as two Nigerian brothers, as persons of interest in the case. They confirmed on Friday (15 February) they arrested the two men and brought them in for questioning as possible suspects.
‘Interrogations will resume today with the two individuals and their attorney,’ department spokesman Anthony Guglielimi told the Los Angeles Times.
He added: ‘Detectives have probable cause that they may have been involved in an alleged crime and we are working to corroborate the allegations and investigative timeline as our investigation continues.’
Police have not charged the men with anything.
The initial attack
At the end of January, Smollett was allegedly attacked in the early hours of the morning in Chicago. Early reports indicated two white men attacked Smollett, putting a noose around his neck and pouring an ‘unknown chemical substance’ on him.
Smollett also said his attackers yelled ‘MAGA country’.
Police are still investigating the case as a possible hate time.
Immediately, there was an outpouring of support for the actor. Fox, the network which airs Empire, released a statement describing Smollett as ‘resilient and strong’.
It also spurred a larger conversation about the violence directed at people living within the intersections of race and sexuality. Smollett’s family called the attack ‘domestic terrorism’ and actor Ellen Page gave a powerful speech about hate.
Reports it was a hoax?
Speculation around the attack then began circulating, prompting Smollett to speak out.
‘I’m pissed off,’ he said in an interview with Good Morning America. ‘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.”‘
On Thursday (14 February), reports came out from local media sources that police were investigating if the attack was staged. Police denied this.
Reports suggested Smollett and accomplices staged it because Fox was writing him off Empire. The network, however, denied this as well.
With these arrests, Chicago police reiterated no evidence suggests a hoax and that Smollett is a victim.
‘While we haven’t found any video documenting the alleged attack, there is no evidence to say that this is a hoax,’ said Guglielimi. ‘The alleged victim is being cooperative at this time and continues to be treated as a victim, not a suspect.’