Sean Philip Cotter
Cops now suspect that actor Jussie Smollett staged what was first investigated as a hate crime, Chicago police sources are telling various news outlets, making this the latest of several local and national incidents in which people are suspected of inventing hate crimes — which often reference President Trump.
Smollett, an actor in the show “Empire” who’s black and gay, told police two white men shouting racial and homophobic slurs put a noose around his neck, poured chemicals on him and told him, “This is MAGA country.” Police now suspect Smollett set the alleged attack up himself, paying two Nigerian men he knew to carry out the attack, according to reports.
Advocates say most hate-crime reports — which have been on the rise in recent years, according to the federal government — are not found to be fake, but there have been a string of high-profile hoaxes over the past several years.
Last month, a Native American man in Washington D.C. made national headlines after he said a group of MAGA-hatted teens confronted and mocked him after he and they were coming from different marches. Video later showed that the man, Nathan Phillips, had sought out the confrontation and gotten in one of the teens’ faces.
Last November, a student at Kansas State tweeted out a picture of what she said was a racist note placed on her door. Following an investigation, police said the student admitted placing the note there herself.
In November 2016, a 20-year-old admitted he lied when he told Malden cops he was harassed by two men who he said used a racial slur, referenced lynching and proclaimed it’s “Trump country now.”
Five black Air Force Academy cadets in 2017 found racial slurs written near their rooms, leading to the school’s superintendent delivering a stern speech against racism in a viral and widely-praised video. But authorities later said one of the five cadets had written the messages.
Farther back, in Lunenburg, Mass., in 2013, police said the mother of a biracial teenager who was a member of the football team spray painted a racial slur on the side of their home, prompting vigils and a suspension of the football program.
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