After several weeks of investigations, news came quickly in the case of an alleged assault and hate crime against Empire star Jussie Smollett this morning.
First, Smollett, 36, appeared on Good Morning America to defend his claim that he was attacked by a pair of men shouting racial and homophobic slurs last month.
"If I had said it was a Muslim or a Mexican or someone black, I feel like the doubters would have supported me a lot more," Smollett said.
The actor also addressed criticism he faced from police, for turning over phone records they called "limited and heavily redacted" instead of handing them his phone.
"I‘m sorry, but I’m not going to do that," Smollett told reporter Robin Roberts.
"I have private pictures and videos and numbers. My partner’s number, my family’s numbers, my castmates’ numbers, my friends’ numbers, my private emails, my songs."
Later this morning, Chicago police said they had identified "persons of interest in the area" who they stressed were "not yet suspects."
Anthony Guglielmi, a Chicago Police communications officer, said the individuals are being questioned by investigators and were "in the area of the alleged attack of the Empire cast member."
Through s meticulous investigation, #ChicahoPolice detectives have identified the persons of interest in the area of the alleged attack of the Empire cast member. These individuals are not yet suspects but were in area of concern and are being questioned. Investigation continues. pic.twitter.com/tmy2jNvww5— Anthony Guglielmi (@AJGuglielmi) February 14, 2019
Police previously released grainy security footage of two persons of interest in the case, and announced earlier this month they had tracked down "additional security cameras."
During his interview, Smollett guessed that his vocal and public criticism of the president made him a target for his attackers.
Smollett’s music manager told Variety that his attackers shouted, "This is MAGA country" during the attack, and hitched a noose around his neck.
"I come really, really hard against 45 [President Trump]," Smollett said. "I come really, really hard against his administration, and I don’t hold my tongue."
In spite of the pain and frustration he’s suffered, Smollett insisted he wanted something good to come out his case.
"I just want young people, young members of the LGBTQ community, young black children to know how strong that they are," he said. "To know the power that they hold in their little pinkie."