Less than one week after being assaulted in what police are investigating as a possible hate crime, actor and singer Jussie Smollett returned to the stage on Saturday for an emotional performance.
The 35-year-old “Empire” star was brutally attacked on Tuesday at around 2 a.m. as he was leaving a Subway restaurant in Chicago. Two white men, who have yet to be identified or captured, allegedly yelled racist and homophobic slurs at him, beat him, threw what may have been bleach on him, and put a noose around his neck. Smollett released a statement a few days after the assault, assuring fans that he was “OK” despite the attack, something he reiterated over the weekend during his first performance since the violent incident.
The actor and singer performed for a crowd of around 400 at The Troubadour in West Hollywood, California on Saturday, CNN reports. Smollett’s family, who released a joint statement last week calling what happened “a racial and homophobic hate crime,” embraced Smollett on stage before his performance began, according to the outlet.
“I’m not fully healed yet, but I’m going to be, and I’m gonna stand strong with y’all,” Smollett told the audience, who reportedly responded with applause.
Earlier reports suggested that Smollett was left with a fractured rib after the attack, but he said on Saturday that his ribs had been bruised, not cracked, according to CNN. He also clarified that he went to the doctor directly after the assault, but did not have to be hospitalized, and he later received the go-ahead from doctors to perform.
“I had to be here tonight, y’all. I couldn’t let those motherf---ers win,” he said, according to Variety. “I will always stand for love. I will only stand for love.”
Smollett on Saturday again seemed to address online speculation that he hadn’t been forthcoming with police or consistent with his story, according to the outlet.
“I don't even care to name any names,” he said. “The hateful rhetoric that gets passed around, it has to stop. But guess what, it stops with the people that believe in love.”
Smollett is said to have told police that his alleged attackers said, “This is MAGA country,” as they left. The actor said in an earlier statement, “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.”
Chicago police are still investigating the attack, and released surveillance footage of two men on social media last week, whom they believe to be people of interest in the case.
[Photo: Getty Images]
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