Jussie Smollett did his best to avoid the cameras on his first trip out in public since his arrest.
Smollett stepped out with his family for dinner on Thursday night in Chicago. The actor is nowhere to be seen in new photos published by The Blast. He reportedly joined his brother Jake, an unidentified woman and a small security team for dinner at Eddie V's Prime Seafood.
The photos do show Smollett's bodyguard, who led him out of jail last month. The actor was reportedly just behind the recognizable man, keeping a low profile on the street and in the restaurant as well. There was no clear look at his face. Smollett is reportedly staying at a hotel in Chicago to avoid the media frenzy building around his apartment. Eddie V's is just half a mile from his home.
EXCLUSIVE: Jussie Smollett seen for the first time since his arrest. //t.co/AguT5qePaK— The Blast (@TheBlastNews) March 1, 2019
Smollett rode to the dinner date in the same black SUV that he left jail in late last month after his arrest for allegedly faking a hate crime against himself. In addition, he was accompanied by at least one security guard that was with him that day.
The actor and his family did not speak to any reporters on the scene, though Smollett's family has been very supportive of him through the whole scandal.
Smollett's sister, actress Jurnee Smollett, took aim at the media for its portrayal of the whole story. She quoted Malcolm X, saying that news outlets were making the “victim look like the criminal" in this case.
Still, as the case gets more and more convoluted, Smollett has lost some high profile allies. The actor is now taking a break from his role on Empire, despite producers' early support of him. In a statement, the show's staff said that they trust the legal system, and they simply wanted to bench Smollett to avoid "disruptions."
“While these allegations are very disturbing, we are placing our trust in the legal system as the process plays out," the producers said. "We are also aware of the effects of this process on the cast and crew members who work on our show and to avoid further disruption on set, we have decided to remove the role of ‘Jamal’ from the final two episodes of the season.”0comments
Smollett and his lawyers continue to claim his innocence in this case. This week, Chicago Police Superintendence Eddie Johnson went on Good Morning America, saying that "there's a lot more evidence" to support the department's charges against Smollett.
"I just hope people don't judge other folks that are victims of these types of crimes because this is just one particular incident. That's the damaging part of it," he added. "You damage the city's reputation. We don't need any help with that; we really don't."