‘Shameful’: Chicago police say Jussie Smollett ‘smeared’ the city with alleged hoax hate crime in dramatic press conference

Chicago police held a press conference on Thursday morning following Jussie Smollett’s arrest for disorderly conduct on Wednesday, when authorities said for the first time publicly they believe the Smollett filed a false police report regarding a purported hate crime against himself.

Chicago Police Department Superintendent Eddie Johnson showed emotion during the dramatic press conference, three weeks after the “Empire” actor claimed two men attacked him on January 29, tied a rope around his neck, and poured a chemical on him, all while shouting racial and homophobic slurs.

Johnson said in the news conference that authorities believe Smollett orchestrated the purported hate crime himself, and sent a threatening letter to himself on the set of the series because he felt he wasn’t getting paid enough and wanted to renegotiate his contract.

“Jussie Smollett took advantage of the pain and anger of racism to promote his career,” Johnson said.

“This publicity stunt was a scar that Chicago didn’t earn and certainly didn’t deserve,” he continued, later adding that Smollett “smeared” the city by allegedly lying about a hate crime that didn’t occur.

Johnson said that while the media gave Smollett’s case disproportionate coverage, “We give every hate crime in this city this much attention.” Though Johnson expressed frustration that the case got so much attention, he insisted that shooting and homicide investigations were not impacted at all.

“[Smollett] knew, as a celebrity, it would get this much attention,” Johnson said. “It’s despicable.”

Authorities revealed at the press conference that they are in possession of a paper check Smollett used to pay two brothers to stage the attack. The check is reportedly in the amount of $3,500 and intended to pay both of them. The brothers were allegedly promised $500 upon their return from a trip to Nigeria the day after the purported attack.

The brothers were arrested earlier this month and decided at the 47th hour of being in custody that they would cooperate with police, Johnson said, noting that after 48 hours authorities would released them, as they were not charged with a crime. Cell phone records showed that Smollett was in contact with his purported assailants an hour before and an hour after the so-called assault, and also when they were in Nigeria.

Smollett is due in court at 1:30 p.m. on Thursday for a bail hearing.