“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,” the Empire star, 36, said in a statement to Essence on Friday, February 1.
“I am working with authorities and have been 100 percent 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,” he continued. “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.”
The statement comes three days after Chicago Police Department spokesman Anthony Guglielmi confirmed to Us Weekly that the Mighty Ducks actor transported himself to a local hospital following the incident. Guglielmi explained that Smollett was approached by two people on Tuesday, January 29, who were “yelling out racial and homophobic slurs toward him.”
Guglielmi continued: “The offenders began to batter the victim with their hands about the face and poured an unknown chemical substance on the victim. At some point during the incident, one of the offenders wrapped a rope around the victim’s neck.”
Smollett — who came out as gay in a 2015 interview with Ellen DeGeneres — was released from Northwestern Memorial Hospital in “good condition” later that day, according to the spokesman.
“Given the severity of the allegations, we are taking this investigation very seriously and treating it as a possible hate crime,” Guglielmi added. “Detectives are currently working to gather video, identify potential witnesses and establish an investigative timeline. The victim is fully cooperating with investigators, and we ask anyone with information about this incident to contact Area Central Detectives at 312-747-8382 or report it anonymously to www.cpdtip.com.”
Chicago police confirmed to Us Weekly on Wednesday, January 30, that police had found potential persons of interest in a surveillance video.
“Jaws dropped to the ground,” Howard, who plays the actor’s father on the show, said during a Good Morning America interview on Tuesday morning. “And then when we learned there had been letters that had been sent to Fox as threats about the potential of something like this … then we became much more frightened.”
As for how Smollett is handling the situation, Howard, 49, explained: “You know, he’s angry, but I know Jussie … Jussie’s anger will dissipate and he will forgive these people for what they did. But he won’t — and we cannot — forget their actions. They have to be forgiven because it was done out of ignorance.”
Henson, for her part, took to Instagram the following day to share her thoughts. “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,” the 48-year-old What Men Want actress, who portrays Smollett’s mother on Empire, wrote. “@jussiesmollett is pure love to the bone AND THAT IS WHY SO MANY ARE FEELING HIS PAIN BECAUSE IT IS OUR PAIN!!! I tell you one thing HATE WILL NOT WIN!!!! My baby is resilient and love still lives in him. The devil and his minions are very busy right now but one thing is for sure and two things are for certain #GODIS and that is all I know.”
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