CHICAGO (AP) — The Latest on the attack on ‘Empire’ cast member Jussie Smollett (all times local):
Chicago police say they’re interviewing two “persons of interest” who surveillance photos show were in the area where “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett says he was attacked last month.
Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said Thursday that the two men aren’t considered suspects but may have been in the area at the time.
Guglielmi told The Associated Press that the two men are the same people shown in surveillance photos released last month by police.
Smollett says two masked men shouted racial and homophobic slurs at him before beating him and putting a rope around his neck when he was walking downtown early on Jan. 29.
Guglielmi says the men were identified through the use of advanced technology, interviews with Smollett and witnesses, and transportation records.
“Empire” actor Jussie Smollett is responding to critics who question his report about being attacked in downtown Chicago last month.
Smollett told police two masked men shouted racial and homophobic slurs at him, attacked him and put a rope around his neck early on Jan. 29. The 36-year-old actor is black and openly gay.
Smollett tells ABC News it’s “ridiculous” to think he’d lie in his explanation for being outside at 2 a.m. in frigid Chicago weather.
He says he left the rope and clothes on when police arrived “because I wanted them to see.” He says accusations that the attack was a date gone bad are offensive.
No arrests have been made. Police say they’ve not found surveillance video that shows the attack but that the investigation is ongoing.
ABC Casts First Black ‘Bachelor’ Following Outcry For Diversity
(CNN) — Following a petition urging ABC to address a lack of diversity on its enormously popular reality dating franchise, ABC has cast the first black “Bachelor.”
Matt James will be the star of the 25th season of “The Bachelor.”
James, 28, was a popular contestant on Season 16 of “The Bachelorette” and is the best friend of former “Bachelorette” contestant Tyler Cameron, with whom he runs the non-profit ABC Food Tours.
“Matt has been on our radar since February, when producers first approached him to join Bachelor Nation, as part of Clare’s season,” ABC Entertainment President Karey Burke said in a statement. “When filming couldn’t move forward as planned, we were given the benefit of time to get to know Matt and all agreed he would make a perfect Bachelor.”
“We know we have a responsibility to make sure the love stories we’re seeing onscreen are representative of the world we live in, and we are proudly in service to our audience,” Burke added.
A Change.org petition urging ABC to address a lack of diversity on the reality dating franchise, which includes “The Bachelor” and its lead spinoff, “The Bachelorette,” garnered the support of thousands, including franchise alums.
The petition stated that “ABC and Warner Bros. have been producing Bachelor content for 18 years. During that time they’ve cast 40 season leads, yet only one Black lead. This is unacceptable.”
“As creators of one of the most popular and influential franchises on television, ABC and Warner Bros. have an opportunity and responsibility to feature Black, Indigenous, People of Color (“BIPOC”) relationships, families, and storylines,” the petition reads. “The franchise, and all those who represent it, should reflect and honor the racial diversity of our country–both in front of and behind the camera.”
Attorney Rachel Lindsay was the first African-American lead of the franchise as “The Bachelorette” during Season 13 of the dating series..
Lindsay retweeted a call to support the diversity campaign launched by writer and franchise superfan Brett S. Vergara earlier this week.
Nick Viall, Season 21’s “Bachelor,” retweeted the campaign and encouraged others to do the same.
The discussion about a lack of inclusion in the franchise not a new one.
In 2012, two African-American men, Nathaniel Claybrooks and Christopher Johnson, filed a class action lawsuit alleging that ABC was intentionally excluding people of color from leading the show after they both applied to be “The Bachelor” in 2011.
Despite the addition of more contestants of color — and the casting of Juan Pablo Galavis, who is Latino, as Season 18’s “Bachelor” — many viewers have continued to criticize racial disparities in the franchise.
Lindsay said during an interview with “AfterBuzz” last week that she views “The Bachelor’s” diversity issues as “embarrassing” and has considered cutting ties with the franchise.
“We are on 45 presidents. And in 45 presidents there’s been one black president,” Lindsday said. “You are almost on par to say you’re more likely to become the President of the United States than you are a black lead in this franchise. That’s insane. That’s ridiculous.”
Burke said that the network is committed to diversity.
“This is just the beginning, and we will continue to take action with regard to diversity issues on this franchise,” she said. “We feel so privileged to have Matt as our first Black Bachelor and we cannot wait to embark on this journey with him.”
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Father of Sandy Hook School Shooting Victim Dies In Apparent Suicide
(CNN) — A father dedicated to helping prevent mass shootings after his daughter was killed in the Sandy Hook massacre has died of an apparent suicide.
The body of Jeremy Richman was found in his Connecticut office building Monday morning, Newtown police said.
His death is the third suicide in the past week related to school massacres.
Richman, 49, was the father of 6-year-old Avielle Richman, who was among 20 children and six adults killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.
Police said they “will not disclose the method or any other details” of Richman’s death, other than it does not appear to be suspicious.
Parkland Shooting Survivor Sydney Aiello Dies At 19
(CBS) — On the day a gunman opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Sydney Aiello escaped with her life. However, the grief of losing 17 of her classmates and teachers, as well as the long-lasting effects of enduring such a traumatic event, weighed heavily on her. And this weekend, at the age of 19, Aiello took her own life.
Now, the Marjory Stoneman Douglas community is mourning yet another loss.
Sydney’s mother, Cara Aiello, told CBS Miami that her daughter struggled with survivor’s guilt and was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder in the year following the tragedy. And while she reportedly never asked for help, she struggled to attend college classes because she was scared of being in a classroom.
Sydney was also a close friend of Meadow Pollack, one of the students who was shot and killed in the Parkland shooting. Meadow’s father, Andrew, became one of the most visible of the Parkland victims’ parents when he delivered a searing and emotional speech at the White House just a few days after the shooting, arguing for an increase in school safety rather than changes to America’s gun laws.
While the nation’s attention turned to budding young activists like David Hogg and Emma Gonzalez, however, other Parkland survivors were suffering in silence. And the Aiello family’s tragedy is an all too painful reminder that trauma effects teens deeply, often quietly, and for years.
Ryan Petty, whose daughter Alaina died in the shooting, told CBS Miami he worries that more traumatized Parkland teens will take their own lives. So, he has focused his grief and his efforts into suicide prevention.
“It breaks my heart that we’ve lost yet another student from Stoneman Douglas,” Petty said. “My advice to parents is to ask questions, don’t wait.”