In a statement to Essence, ‘Empire’ star Jussie Smollett broke his silence after a racist and homophobic attack left him hospitalized Tuesday.
Smollett told police he had just left a Subway when two men in dark clothes approached and yelled the slurs. Smollett told police he was hit and a chemical — maybe bleach — was poured on him. They put a rope around his neck and yelled, “This is MAGA country,’’ he told detectives.
“Let me start by saying that I’m OK,” Smollett began in his statement to Essence. “My body is strong but my soul is stronger. More importantly I want to say thank you. The outpouring of love and support from my village has meant more than I will ever be able to truly put into words. ”
Smollett also addressed reports circulating that he was not cooperating with the investigation and questions about his account of the incident.
Smollett said, “I am working with authorities and have been 100% factual and consistent on every level. Despite my frustrations and deep concern with certain inaccuracies and misrepresentations that have been spread, I still believe that justice will be served. ”
“As my family stated, these types of cowardly attacks are happening to my sisters, brothers and non-gender conforming siblings daily. I am not and should not be looked upon as an isolated incident. We will talk soon and I will address all details of this horrific incident, but I need a moment to process,” he concluded. “Most importantly, during times of trauma, grief and pain, there is still a responsibility to lead with love. It’s all I know. And that can’t be kicked out of me.”
As Chicago police work to gather more evidence and identify the assailants in the brutal beating of Jussie Smollett, authorities revealed they have obtained security footage showing the actor with a rope dangling around his neck.
Police Officer Jennifer Bryk told The NY Daily News that Smollett was seen on camera walking into a residential building, but no other persons appear on video, she explained.
In addition to the FBI, there are reportedly at least a dozen officers working on the case and most of Smollett’s moves the night of the vicious attack, have been tracked, officer Michael Carroll said earlier Thursday.
Footage of the actual attack has not been found as of yet.
Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi told NBC News that Smollett said he was speaking to his manager during the attack that occurred in the wee hours Tuesday morning, but declines to share his telephone records.
Guglielmi said footage from the apartment building is sharp and shows Smollett walking in with a white rope around his neck. “We can confirm that, yeah, it was a rope, tied as a noose. It was tied that way,’’ he said. “You can tell it’s a rope tied as a noose.’’
The Smollett Family Speaks
As two persons of interests are sought, Smollett’s family released a joint statement exclusively to theGrio, putting to rest rumors that Smollett wasn’t being forthcoming in the investigation.
“In the early hours of Tuesday morning, our beloved son and brother, Jussie, was the victim of a violent and unprovoked attack. We want to be clear, this was a racial and homophobic hate crime. Jussie has told the police everything from the very beginning. His story has never changed, and we are hopeful they will find these men and bring them to justice. Our family thanks everyone for their prayers and the huge amount of love he has received. We are thankful to our village for your immense support during this trying time. We are so grateful that God saw him through this cowardly attack alive. Jussie is a warrior whose light cannot be dimmed. We want people to understand these targeted hate crimes are happening to our sisters, brothers and our gender non-conforming siblings, many who reside within the intersection of multiple identities, on a monthly, weekly, and sometimes even daily basis all across our country. Oftentimes ending fatally, these are inhumane acts of domestic terrorism and they should be treated as such. They will continue to occur until we hold each other accountable. Make no mistake, words matter. Hateful words lead to hateful actions. Radical love is the only solution, but passivity will be our downfall. We, as a family, will continue to work for love, equity and justice until it reigns supreme in our nation and all over the world.
With Love & Gratitude,
The Smollett Family
Smollett has received an outpouring of support across social media from celebrities and fans alike.
Taraji P. Henson, who plays Smollett’s character’s mother on the show, tweeted: “I wish what happened to my baby was just one big bad joke but it wasn’t and we all feel his pain right now. @jussiesmollett is pure love to the bone.”
On Thursday afternoon, when asked about the Smollett attack in the White House, Trump said it was “horrible” and “Doesn’t get worse, as far as I’m concerned.”
Illinois Congressman Bobby Rush has called on the FBI to investigate the attack as a hate crime.