February 21, 2019 / 7:48 PM / 3 months ago

Factbox: List of some reported racial attacks in U.S. deemed to be false

(Reuters) - Actor Jussie Smollett of the television drama "Empire" staged an attack on himself that appeared to have racist and homophobic overtones as a publicity stunt, Chicago police said on Thursday.

The 36-year-old, who is black and openly gay, was arrested and charged with lying to police in connection with the Jan. 29 incident, in which he paid two men $3,500 to strike him and put a noose around his neck, according to police.

Here is a brief list of other incidents in the United States involving discredited reports of racially motivated attacks:

December 2016 - Yasmin Seweid, 18, was charged with filing a false police report after telling police that three white men, yelling the name of then President-elect Donald Trump, had attacked her on a New York City subway for wearing a traditional Muslim head scarf.

January 2016 - Ariel Agudio, Asha Burwell and Alexis Briggs, former students at the State University of New York at Albany, were charged with false reporting and misdemeanor assault after claiming they were racially attacked on a bus by 12 to 20 people, including white men, according to reports by Times Union newspaper. University police accused the three students, who are black, of being the aggressors in the physical altercation and were dismissed from the school.

October 2008 - Ashley Todd, a former volunteer for John McCain's 2008 presidential campaign, admitted to Pittsburgh police that she lied about being robbed and beaten by a black man after he saw a McCain bumpersticker on her car, according to reports by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Todd, who is white, was sentenced to nine months of probation.

October 1994 - South Carolina native Susan Smith drowned her two young sons when she let her car roll into a nearby lake with the boys inside. Smith, who is white, had originally told police that the children had vanished when an armed black man forced his way into the car. She later confessed to the killings and was sentenced to life in prison.

November 1987 - Tawana Brawley, then 15, claimed she was kidnapped and raped by a gang of white men in Wappingers Falls, New York, who used charcoal to scratch racial slurs into her skin. A state grand jury found her story to be untrue and all the men who were accused in the attack were exonerated. Brawley, who is a black woman, insisted years later that her story was true.

Reporting by Gina Cherelus in New York; Editing by Matthew Lewis

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