And so it begins.

On Sunday, a civil rights activist in Los Angeles held a press conference during which time he called for the arrest of actor Jussie Smollett, saying he believes the “Empire” star lied about being the victim of a hate crime.

Najee Ali, who is also the director of Project Islamic HOPE, declared that false claims make real incidents of racist attacks and homophobia easier to dismiss.

“It’s a slap in the face. We have many members of the black community and the LGBTQ community who have been the victims of racism and hate crimes, so for Smollett to say that he was a victim… and we believe is a lie… certainly is an injustice to those true victims…,” Ali said. “Jussie Smollett must be brought to justice for lying.”

WATCH:

The activist pointed out that at first Smollett’s story was originally given the benefit of the doubt, but then, as time went on, the “campaign of lies continued to be unraveled.”

Smollett said he was physically attacked last month by two masked white men who shouted racial and anti-gay slurs at him, and the actor also claimed they shouted, “This is MAGA country!”

Remember, this supposedly took place in a half gay and black neighborhood, in Chicago, at 2 AM.

Smollett also claimed they poured bleach, or some other chemical on him, before putting a hangman’s rope around his neck before running away.  Can we get any more cliches from this guy?

All of this happened as Smollett was heading home from an early morning stop at a 24-hour Subway restaurant in downtown Chicago.  There’s video footage that shows no attack, but Smollett does go off camera for about 60 seconds, which is when he claims the attack took place.  Interestingly enough, when he is seen coming back into the video frame, he is still carrying his Subway sandwich.  Subway should hire this guy and run a campaign;  “I was brutally attacked by two white Trump supporters, they beat me up, poured bleach on me, and put a noose around my neck, but I’ll be damned if I was going to give up my Subway sandwich.”

Two Nigerian brothers were identified as the only two other people in any of the video footage.

From ABC:

On Wednesday, Chicago police picked up the brothers at O’Hare International Airport as they returned from Nigeria. They described them as “suspects” in the assault, questioned them and searched their apartment.

Then, late Friday evening they released the two men without charges and said they were no longer suspects. They said they had gleaned new information from their interrogation of them.

Smollett’s lawyers said late Saturday that the actor felt “victimized” by reports that he played a role in the assault, adding that, “Nothing is further from the truth and anyone claiming otherwise is lying.” The statement from attorneys Todd Pugh and Victor P. Henderson also said Smollett would continue cooperating with police.

It turns out the brothers were extras on the “Empire” show that Smollett stars in, and they have a relationship with the actor.  Police now believe Smollett paid the two men to stage the attack.

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