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Former Empire actor Jussie Smollett begins his trial today after he alleged a racist and homophobic attack two years ago against him in downtown Chicago.  Watch as he describes the incident in detail.

His family walked alongside him this morning as he entered the courthouse for jury selection. The trial comes not as a result to lock up the alleged attackers, but instead to charge Smollett. In early March he was charged with 16 counts of disorderly conduct but they were all dropped after the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office reviewed the case and Jussie agreed to forfeit his $10,000 bond. Later that month, police released investigative reports, and by June the judge had appointed a special prosecutor to investigate over 70 hours worth of video footage, 400 pages of search warrants, and a year of Smollet’s data history including text messages, website searches, and geolocation data. Fast forward to February 2020, and Jussie was indicted by a grand jury on 6 counts of making false reports to the police.

According to CNN, the then-Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson alleged that Smollett paid the two men seen on surveillance $3,500 to stage the attack to take “advantage of the pain and anger of racism to promote his career,” as confessed by the men. See below the surveillance footage of the two men that were questioned. There is also bodycam footage of Jussie continuing his story with the noose still around his neck when police arrived.

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