Democratic presidential candidates jockeying for position in 2020 had a lot to say when actor Jussie Smollett said he was attacked in Chicago by two white men who shouted racist and homophobic slurs as they beat him.
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. https://t.co/EwXFxl5f2m
— Cory Booker (@CoryBooker) January 29, 2019
The Washington Examiner reports,
But they were silent on Saturday, when law enforcement sources said that Chicago Police believed “Empire” star Smollett, 36, who is gay, paid two black men to set up the assault. Police arrested the men, who are brothers from Nigeria, on Wednesday but released them Friday after discovering “new evidence.”
A Chicago police spokesman said: “We can confirm that the information received from the individuals questioned by police earlier in the Empire case has in fact shifted the trajectory of the investigation.” He added that police wanted to speak to Smollett again.
When news of the “attack” broke last month, Democratic presidential contenders clamored to denounce it as a horrific manifestation of racism and bigotry in America.
Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., called it a “modern-day lynching.”
“No one should have to fear for their life because of their sexuality or color of their skin,” said Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif.
.@JussieSmollett 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.
— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) January 29, 2019
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., called the incident “a sickening and outrageous attack, and horribly, it’s the latest of too many hate crimes against LGBTQ people and people of color.”
This is a sickening and outrageous attack, and horribly, it’s the latest of too many hate crimes against LGBTQ people and people of color. We are all responsible for condemning this behavior and every person who enables or normalizes it. Praying for Jussie and his family. https://t.co/eylvxhLT0u
— Kirsten Gillibrand (@SenGillibrand) January 29, 2019
Asked about the incident, President Trump also condemned it, saying “it’s horrible,” and “It doesn’t get worse.”
Smollett said his attackers were white and that his story would not have been doubted if an attacker had been “a Muslim, or a Mexican, or someone black.” He stated that they had punched and kicked him, abused him with homophobic epithets and shouted: “This is MAGA country.”
The actor claimed that the men placed a rope around his neck and threw bleach at him from a hot sauce bottle. Police seized bottles of bleach, a red hat, laptops, and an “Empire” script from the home of the brothers.