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Jussie Smollett 'Staged' Attack To Advance Career

Actor Jussie Smollett paid two brothers thousands of dollars to beat him in a staged racist and homophobic attack because he was dissatisfied with his salary on the hip-hop TV drama Empire, police say.

Smollett, who is black and openly gay, was arrested on Thursday and charged with lying to police in connection with the alleged attack on January 29.

Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson was visibly angered as he condemned Smollett's actions on Thursday.

Police did not spell out how Smollett hoped to boost his salary by staging a supposed racist, homophobic attack by supporters of US President Donald Trump.

"Smollett took advantage of the pain and anger of racism to promote his career," Johnson told a news conference, adding that the actor paid $US3500 ($A4940) to the brothers to stage the supposed hate crime.

"This stunt was orchestrated by Smollett because he was dissatisfied with this salary. He concocted a story about being attacked," Johnson said.

"We gave him the benefit of the doubt."

Police did not say anything about the amount of Smollett's salary.

If convicted, the 36-year-old actor could face a prison sentence of one to three years.

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Smollett had claimed that two apparent Trump supporters had struck him and put a noose around his neck.

It was initially reported that an unknown substance was poured over him, but Johnson on Thursday said that was unclear.

Trump tweeted that Smollett had made "racist and dangerous comments".

"@JussieSmollett - what about MAGA and the tens of millions of people you insulted with your racist and dangerous comments!?" the president wrote.

20th Century Fox Television, which airs Empire, said it was weighing up its options in a statement on Thursday.

"We understand the seriousness of this matter and we respect the legal process. We are evaluating the situation and we are considering our options," it said.

The Cook County State's Attorney's Office approved felony criminal charges against Smollett for disorderly conduct and filing a false police report, police said on Wednesday.

He has a bond hearing scheduled for later on Thursday.

A spokesman for Smollett's lawyers Todd Pugh and Victor Henderson said they would make a statement when ready.

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On February 13, police arrested the two brothers who were recognised from surveillance footage of the area where Smollett said the attack occurred.

One of the brothers worked with Smollett on Empire, according to police and their lawyer.

Near the end of the 48 hours in which police are allowed to detain potential suspects without charging them, the brothers "decided to confess to the entirety of what the plot was", Johnson said.

They became co-operating witnesses and were released two days later without charges.

Johnson called for Smollett to apologise to the city.

"How can an individual who has been embraced by the city of Chicago turn around and slap everyone in this city in the face by making these false claims?" the police superintendent said.


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