Actor Jussie Smollett allegedly orchestrated an attack on himself because he was "dissatisfied" with the tens of thousands of dollars he was making per episode, according to law enforcement officials.
"First Smollett attempted to gain attention by sending a false letter that relied on racial homophobic and political language," Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said during a press conference on Thursday. "When that didn’t work, Smollett paid $3,500 to stage this attack ... The stunt was orchestrated by Smollett because he was dissatisfied with his salary so he concocted a story about being attacked."
HuffPost reports: "Smollett was paid $65,000 per episode for his co-starring role in the most recent season of 'Empire,' a well-placed source told HuffPost. On average, there are 18 episodes of 'Empire' per season."
The Daily Mail reports that Smollett makes even more, as a source told the British newspaper that "Smollett makes $100,000 per episode."
"It’s just despicable," Johnson said, adding that when investigators learned the motive behind the attack it "quite frankly ... pissed everybody off."
"It makes you wonder what’s going on in someone’s mind to be able to do something like that," Johnson continued. "I’m left hanging my head and asking why? Why would anyone, especially an African-American man, use the symbolism of a noose to make false accusations? How could someone look at the hatred and suffering associated with that symbol and see an opportunity to manipulate that symbol to further his own public profile?"
Multiple Democratic politicians rushed to defend Smollett immediately following the attack that he allegedly orchestrated on himself, including:
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY): "There is no such thing as 'racially charged.' This attack was not 'possibly' homophobic. It was a racist and homophobic attack. If you don’t like what is happening to our country, then work to change it. It is no one’s job to water down or sugar-coat the rise of hate crimes."
Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ): "The vicious attack on actor Jussie Smollett was an attempted modern-day lynching. I'm glad he's safe. To those in Congress who don't feel the urgency to pass our Anti-Lynching bill designating lynching as a federal hate crime—I urge you to pay attention."
Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA): "[email protected] is one of the kindest, most gentle human beings I know. I’m praying for his quick recovery. This was an attempted modern day lynching. No one should have to fear for their life because of their sexuality or color of their skin. We must confront this hate."
Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA): "Jussie is my friend - a very talented & beautiful human being. It is so hurtful that homophobic haters would dare hurt someone so loving and giving. I'm dedicated to finding the culprits and bringing them to justice. Jussie did not deserve to be harmed by anyone!"
Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI): "When one of the most famous black and gay men in America is not safe, the message is clearer than it has ever been." The dangerous lies spewing from the right wing is killing & hurting our people. Thinking of you @JussieSmollett, and my LGBTQ neighbors."