Culture Wars/Current Controversies

Everything to Know About Jussie Smollett’s Trial

The Cut

In January 2019, Empire actor Jussie Smollett was beaten by two men who yelled racist and homophobic slurs at him, and put his head in a noose — an attack that was first investigated as a violent hate crime but quickly grew to be much more complicated. In less than a month, Chicago police dropped their investigation into the two “persons of interest,” and Smollett faced accusations of orchestrating the attack on himself, leading everyone from Cardi B to Kamala Harris to weigh in on the case. By February 2019, Smollett, who is Black and openly gay, was named a suspect in his own attack.To make things even more complicated, just over a month later, all charges were dropped against Smollett. They were subsequently renewed, and in February 2020, a grand jury returned a six-charge indictment against Smollett for felony disorderly conduct on suspicion of making false reports to the police. He has pleaded not guilty, and the trial began this week. Here’s everything to know about the alleged attack and the aftermath.


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