Less than 48 hours after the actor/singer was hopitalized following an assault in Chicago that law enforcement has described as a "possible hate crime," Empire star Jussie Smollett released a statement exclusively to ESSENCE, thanking the "beautiful people" for their support and assuring fans that he is currently recovering.
"Let me start by saying that I'm OK. 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.
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.
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.
With Love, respect & honor…Jussie"
Smollett's family and Underground's Jurnee Smollett-Bell released a statement on Wednesday condemning the attack, the perpetrators, and similar hate crimes (see below).
The Chicago Police Department confirmed that in the early hours of January 29, Smollett was beaten by two males who approached him while yelling "racial and homophobic slurs" at around 2 a.m. Tuesday morning in the 300 block of E. North Water Street.
Having returned to Chicago on a delayed flight from New York City, Smollett was assaulted by the two men, who proceeded to pour "an unknown chemical substance" on him and put a rope around Smollett's neck before fleeing the scene. After reporting the assault to the police and sitting for an interview, Smollett drove to Northwestern Hospital for medical treatment. Under increased security, he returned to his home late Tuesday and is reported to be in good condition.
On Wednesday, police released images from a surveillance camera of potential persons of interest who are wanted in questioning in regards to the attack on Smollett and set up a community alert:
Photos of people of interest who were in area of the alleged assault & battery of Empire cast member. While video does not capture an encounter, detectives are taking this development seriously & wish to question individuals as more cameras are being reviewed pic.twitter.com/xJDDygtocr
— Anthony Guglielmi (@AJGuglielmi) January 31, 2019
Here is the full statement from Smollett's family:
"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."
Portraying the character of Jamal Lyon on FOX's long-running and popular prime-time drama since its premiere, the award-winning actor/singer was in Chicago to prepare for a concert he was set to perform this Saturday.