Jussie Smollett's Empire co-stars embraced the troubled actor as he returned to the set hours after posting a $100,000 bond and surrendering his passport on Thursday. Smollett, 36, was arrested early Wednesday and charged with a felony for filing a false police report.
Chicago Police Department Superintendent Eddie Johnson claimed during a press conference that the 36-year-old actor hired brothers Olabinjo, 27, and Abimbola Osundairo, 25, to help him stage a fake hate attack to boost his career and salary.
According to TMZ.com, Smollett issued an apology to his co-stars, saying, "I'm sorry I've put you all through this and not answered any calls. I wanted to say I'm sorry and, you know me, I would never do this to any of you, you are my family. I swear to God, I did not do this."
Co-star Gabourey Sidibe never lost her faith in Smollett. Sidibe says she still believes in Smollett, despite the overwhelming evidence that he faked a hate crime.
"I know him, I believe him, I stand with him. #jussiesmollett," Sidibe wrote on Instagram, accompanied by a quote from the black nationalist Malcolm X on the oppression of black people.
"This is the media, an irresponsible media. It will make the criminal look like he's the victim and the victim look like he's the criminal," the quote reads. "If you aren't careful, the media, the media will have you hating the people who are being oppressed and loving the people who are doing the oppressing."
She quickly deleted the Malcolm X quote and posted her reason for the deletion (see post below).
Smollett and his legal team continue to maintain his innocence, insisting he was a victim of a hate crime.
Smollett's legal team, which includes famed celebrity attorney Mark Geragos, issued a stern statement about law enforcement.
"The presumption of innocence, a bedrock in the search for justice, was trampled upon at the expense of Mr. Smollett and notably, on the eve of a Mayoral election. Mr. Smollett is a young man of impeccable character and integrity who fiercely and solemnly maintains his innocence betrayed by a system that apparently wants to skip due process and proceed directly to sentencing."
They added that the nation has "witnessed an organized law enforcement spectacle that has no place in the American legal system."
Smollett still faces federal charges of sending a threatening letter to himself via the US Postal Service. The federal charge carries a guaranteed prison term.
Photos by Rachel Luna/Getty Images, 20th Century Fox