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Jussie Smollett (photo: AFP)

By: Nate Morris, senior editor

Jussie Smollett, star of the hit TV show “Empire”, has been charged with one felony count of disorderly conduct by Chicago police after new evidence suggests the actor staged a hate crime and filed a false police report.

According to several sources, a grand jury has been convened and has heard evidence following the decision of prosecutors to proceed with charging Smollett in the case.

Just weeks ago, Smollett garnered national attention after self-admitting to a Chicago area hospital following what he described to be a brutal attack.

Smollett claimed to police that two white men wearing “Make America Great Again” hats  hurled homophobic and racial slurs at him, beat him, poured bleach on him, and tied a rope around his neck.

The incident drew national outrage and condemnation along with an outpouring of support for Smollett, who is Black and gay and one of the few prominent queer people of color on primetime cable TV.

Rumors have swirled for days now as additional details come to light, but Smollett has yet to deviate from his original story.

However, media outlets have reported that some scenes on “Empire” which include Smollett have begun being cut as the investigation has taken this dramatic turn.

Chicago prosecutors are reportedly in negotiations with Smollett’s lawyers to have him surrender.

Many have openly stated their bewilderment as to the purpose behind staging such an attack.

Prominent writer and activist Roxanne Gay wrote on Twitter this past weekend, “Who would do something like this?  Why would he think the police wouldn’t investigate?  Why would he make it harder for people who actually suffer from hate crimes? It makes no sense.  The lie is so damaging.”

In a tearful interview on Good Morning America last week, Smollett called claims that he staged the attack “devastating”.

“You do such a disservice when you lie about things like this,” he said.

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