Robin Roberts Calls Jussie Smollett Hoax a ‘Setback For Race Relations’

'Empire' event in Los Angeles

Actor Jussie Smollett charged over alleged staged attack, turned himself in

Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson had a hard time holding back his frustration over the allegation that a gay black man like Smollett would concoct such a story given the real struggles in the city with racial divisions and hate crimes.

This following an investigation where police say it was revealed Smollett provided false information to police when he made a report of an Aggravated Battery.

The host of "CNN Tonight" told a panel that he was anxious how various cable news outlets would cover an arrest of Mr. Smollett, whose claims of a racist and homophobic attack in Chicago fell apart as local police and the FBI investigated.

Jussie Smollett paid $3,500 to stage the attack, says police.

On Feb. 13, police arrested the two brothers, who had been recognized from surveillance footage of the area where Smollett said the attack occurred. Earlier this week, local media reported the attack was planned after a racist letter addressed to Smollett and sent to the "Empire" studio did not receive much attention.

"We understand the seriousness of this matter and we respect the legal process".

"We are deeply saddened and outraged to learn that a member of our Empire family, Jussie Smollett, was viciously attacked last night".

"I don't see any benefit for the administration to do that", defense attorney Joseph Lopez said.

While Lopez suspects the feds won't bring a case against Smollett, the actor's celebrity status could pressure prosecutors.

Following the confirmation of the actor's charges, the police said Smollett set this whole thing up because he wasn't happy with his salary.

"We can't lose sight of the fact that members of the LGBTQ community continue to be vulnerable and face discrimination and violence every day", Boston Pride said in a statement.

Chicago Police Department spokesman Anthony Guglielmi confirmed on Twitter that the Empire actor was in detectives' custody on Thursday morning.

If convicted on the Class 4 felony charge, Smollett could face a sentence of one to three years in prison along with a fine up to $25,000. "Given these circumstances, we intend to conduct a thorough investigation and to mount an aggressive defence".

Trump weighed in on Thursday, accusing Smollett of insulting "tens of millions" of his supporters "with your racist and unsafe comments".

The brothers were set to give grand jury testimony Tuesday before a last-minute phone call from Smollett's attorneys convinced prosecutors to delay their testimony; Smollett's lawyers said they had new evidence. They became cooperating witnesses and were released two days later without charges. He said he has been a victim of hateful behavior. But that data isn't complete because it's based in part on voluntary reporting by police agencies across the country.

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