Three days after “Empire” star Jussie Smollett was targeted in what’s been called a racist, homophobic attack, the actor’s family has released a statement.
Two men who have yet to be apprehended are alleged to have attacked the 35-year-old actor in Chicago at around 2 a.m. as he was leaving a Subway restaurant. They allegedly shouted racist and homophobic slurs at him before beating him, pouring a liquid that may have been bleach on him, and leaving a noose around his neck.
In a statement shared via social media Thursday night, the Smollett family, which includes actress Jurnee Smollett Bell, called the violent incident a “racial and homophobic hate crime.”
“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,” their statement reads. “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,” they wrote. “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.”
The Smollett family went on to express their desire to raise awareness of hate crimes against minorities, writing: “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,” the statement concluded. “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.”
President Donald Trump has broken his silence on the attack in a brief statement on Thursday, Deadline reports.
“That I can tell you is horrible,” he said, when asked about the incident. “It doesn’t get worse.”
Smollett’s attackers, who are said to be two white men, reportedly wore ski masks and left Smollett with a fractured rib and injuries on his face. The actor reportedly told police that the men shouted, “This is MAGA country,” as they left. Smollett “self-transported” himself to Northwestern Hospital to obtain treatment for his injuries; he was later released, according to police.
Authorities have since obtained security camera footage of two people of interest in the attack and released still images via social media on Wednesday.
“They could have been the perpetrators, they could have been witnesses, they could have been complete bystanders who didn’t see the incident at all,” Anthony Guglielmi, chief communications officer for the Chicago Police Department, told The Chicago Sun-Times. “There are still a lot more cameras that we have to look at. It’s almost like a digital puzzle. You have to put all of those pieces together and kind of watch them at the same time.”
[Photo: Getty Images]
Crime Time is your destination for true crime stories from around the world, breaking crime news, and information about Oxygen's original true crime shows and documentaries. Sign up for our Crime Time Newsletter and subscribe to our true crime podcast Martinis & Murder for all the best true crime content.