Jussie Smollett was violently and brutally attacked by two men on the streets of Chicago early on the morning of January 29.
Or was he, a bunch of very dumb and cruel and cynical people are now asking?!?
As you've very likely heard about and/or read all about by now, the Empire star was harassed by a pair of assailants late last month on his way home from getting a late-night snack.
These individuals allegedly screamed homophobic and racist epithets at the actor, prior to tying a rope around his neck and dumping bleach all over him.
It was the epitome of a hate crime.
It was a modern-day lynching.
It was truly horrible.
And yet... despite police confirming the assault... and despite Smollett certainly having no reason to lie about such a thing... a handful of people out there somehow don't believe this heinous incident actually took place.
“I don’t believe it happened the way he said it did,” said Agin Muhammad, who lives in the same high-rise near the Navy Pier as Smollett.
On what is he basing this strong allegation?
“I’ve been in this neighborhood five years. I don’t believe it, not around here … Half the people are gay and the other half are black," Muhammad explained to Page Six.
Elsewhere, a patron at Lizzie McNeill’s Irish Pub - located approximately a block from the scene of the alleged assault - said Smollett’s story “doesn’t really make sense," expounding as follows:
“It’s a lie, because Chicago is the most liberal city around,” said this unnamed man. "They have cameras everywhere … Why can’t they find the attack?”
This is quite the take.
For starters, there is surveillance footage (below) of two men spotted right around the time and right around the place Smollett says he was attacked.
Secondly, yes, Hillary Clinton won Cook County (which includes Chicago) with 75% of the vote in the 2016 Presidential campaign.
That's a huge margin of victory over Donald Trump.
But it still means 25% of residents voted to Make America Great Again, making it mathmatically very plausible that two of those people screamed that Smollett is in "MAGA Country" while they pummelled him, which is what the actor has claimed.
Smollett will soon start filming episodes of Empire once again, while he returned to the stage for a live singing performance just days after the incident.
"I am not fully healed yet, but I'm going to, and I'm gonna stand strong with ya'll," the actor/singer said during a concert at the Troubadour club on the Sunset Strip.
He added at the time:
"I had to be here tonight, y'all. I couldn't let those motherf-ckers win. So I will always stand for love.
"I will never stand for anything other than that. Regardless of what anyone else says, I will only stand for love and I hope that you all stand with me."
Elsewhere, Smollett has been asked to turn over his phone records to the police because he has said he was on the phone with his manager at the time of his assault.
Authorities therefore consider these records important evidence for the case.
However, TMZ reports that Smollett has responded by turning over a redacted PDF of his phone bill.
And police have requested the full, actual phone bill -- or a download of Jussie's phone; they say a PDF can be manipulated and cannot be used as any sort of evidence.
“We have no reason to doubt the statements, but for a criminal investigation, we need to independently confirm the phone records,” Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi says.
As for those who are casting doubt on Smollet's story?
His spokesperson says the following:
Jussie is the victim here, which has been slated by the Superintendent of Police. Jussie has voluntarily provided his phone records from within an hour of the attack and given multiple statements to police.
Chicago PD has repeatedly informed us that they find Jussie's account of what happened that night consistent and credible.
Superintendent Johnson has been clear from day one that Jussie is a victim.
We are continuing to work closely with the Chicago PD and remain confident that they will find Jussie's attackers and bring them to justice.