News

U.S.

Empire Actor Refuses to Turn Over Phone Records to Chicago PD

Jussie Smollett poses on the red carpet before the 47th Songwriters Hall of Fame ceremony in New York, June 9, 2016. (Eduardo Munoz/Reuters)

Chicago police have requested Empire actor Jussie Smollett’s phone records in order to substantiate his manager’s claim that they were speaking on the phone when Smollett was viciously attacked early Tuesday morning, but Smollett has reportedly refused to turn them over.

Smollett claims he was leaving a Subway sandwich shop around 2 a.m. Tuesday when two assailants began beating him, placed a noose around his neck, and poured an “unknown chemical substance” on him — all while shouting racist and homophobic slurs. After initially sharing just those details with the police following the attack, Smollett later told the authorities that the assailants shouted “this is MAGA country” before fleeing, after that claim appeared in a TMZ account of the incident.

Smollett’s manager, Brandon Moore, who was with his client at a Chicago apartment when the police arrived, claims he was speaking with Smollett on the phone during the attack and overheard many of the racist and homophobic comments Smollett recounted.

“I heard that clearly. I heard the scuffle and I heard the racial slur,” Moore told Variety when asked if he heard the alleged “MAGA country” comment.

But Smollett and Moore now refuse to turn the records of their calls over to the police.

After reviewing hundreds of hours of private surveillance footage captured by area businesses, the police announced Tuesday night that they have been unable to find any footage of the alleged attack. They have, however, identified a “person of interest.”

The attack, which is being treated as a “possible hate crime” by the authorities, has drawn the condemnation of a number of high-profile Democrats, who have cited the incident as an example of a broader trend of rising political violence.

Smollett, 36, began publicly disparaging Trump as early as 2011 and has more recently labeled the president and his supporters racists on his personal Twitter account.

Most Popular

U.S.

In Defense of Coleman Hughes

Picture the scene: A young man walks into a congressional hearing to offer witness testimony. His grandfather was barbarically brutalized by people who are now long dead. The nation in which he resides built its wealth of his grandfather’s brutalization. The question: Should his fellow citizens pay the young ... Read More
Film & TV

Toy Story 4: A National Anthem

The Toy Story franchise is the closest thing we have to an undisputed national anthem, a popular belief that celebrates what we think we all stand for — cooperation, ingenuity, and simple values, such as perpetual hope. This fact of our infantile, desensitized culture became apparent back in 2010 when I took a ... Read More
Film & TV

Fosse/Verdon and the Dismal #MeToo Obsession

In the final episode of Fosse/Verdon, one of the two titular characters, Bob Fosse, is shooting one of the greatest films of all time. The other, Gwen Verdon, is having a quarrel with her unspeakably dull boyfriend about whether he approves of her performing in a road-show production of a Broadway musical. These ... Read More
Elections

Joe and the Segs

Joe Biden has stepped in it, good and deep. Biden, if he has any hope of ever being elected president, will be dependent on residual goodwill among African Americans from his time as Barack Obama’s loyal and deferential vice president — so deferential, in fact, that he stood aside for Herself in 2016 even ... Read More
Politics & Policy

The Madcap Caution of Donald Trump

The worry last week was that the Trump administration was ginning up fake intelligence about Iran blowing up oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz to justify a war against Iran. Then, this week, President Donald Trump said the Iranian attacks weren’t a big deal. The episode is another indication of the ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Elizabeth Warren’s Terrible Plans

Elizabeth Warren is being lauded as the serious candidate in the race. Her motto, “I have a plan for that,” is accepted as proof that she is thoughtful and conscientious. That’s too generous. One should expect a grown-up to evaluate costs and benefits, to understand tradeoffs, and to pay for what they ... Read More
Education

College Leaders Should Learn from Oberlin

Thanks to their social-justice warrior mindset, the leaders of Oberlin College have caused an Ohio jury to hit it with $44 million in compensatory and punitive damages in a case where the school couldn't resist the urge to side with its “woke” students against a local business. College leaders should learn ... Read More