CHICAGO (CBS) — As Jussie Smollett’s story of a racially targeted attack begins to unravel, the Rev. Jesse Jackson is warning against a rush to judgment.
In an interview with CBS Local in New York, Jackson was asked whether he believed Smollett’s story. The “Empire” actor says he was attacked last month in Chicago by two men, who punched him, placed a rope around his neck and poured a chemical on his body.
“I don’t know,” Jackson said. “What he said first was a compelling narrative. There is other information coming out that we just don’t know.”
CBS 2’s Charlie De Mar, citing multiple sources, has reported that Smollett paid two brothers $3,500 to stage the Jan. 29 attack. He directed them to buy the rope at a local hardware store and rehearsed the attack beforehand, sources said.
CBS 2 also reported that Smollett was upset that a racist letter sent to him on the set of “Empire” did not “get a bigger reaction.” So, according to sources, he orchestrated the attack.
That incident happened around 2 a.m. on North Water Street in the Streeterville neighborhood on one of the coldest nights in Chicago history.
FULL COVERAGE: Read CBS 2’s Coverage Of The Case
“When the letter didn’t get enough attention, he concocted the staged attack,” a source told CBS 2 Investigator Brad Edwards. Other sources corroborated that information.
The note was crafted with letters apparently cut out from magazines to form words. The pieced-together message contained racial and homophobic threats directed at Smollett. A magazine is one of the pieces of evidence retrieved from the brother’s home last week during a search conducted by CPD. Investigators also recovered a book of stamps.
The brothers are living at an undisclosed location and Chicago Police want to re-interview Smollett. So far, according to Smollett’s lawyers, that hasn’t happened.
“The narrative of a black or gay being attacked is prevalent,” Jackson said. “So it’s easy to believe. Then the story starts unraveling. So now you have the case of it is a hoax, or is it real?”
Jackson said the investigation is ongoing and should continue to run its course before anybody passes judgment.
“We should not prejudge,” he said. “We jumped to conclusions on the front side Don’t put due process on recess. Due process takes time and we should honor that process.
“Whether we judge him harshly or judge him lightly, let’s let the investigation determine the outcome.”