After being brutally attacked by two men earlier this week in Chicago, Empire actor Jussie Smollett received an outpouring of love and support from fans, friends, and famous admirers alike. The attack, which is being investigated as a hate crime, happened as Smollett left a Subway early Tuesday morning and heard someone make racist and homophobic comments towards him. According to reports, he was then beaten by two white men wearing ski masks shouting, "This is MAGA country," before being left with a noose tied around his neck and an unknown chemical substance poured on him.
In a statement released to Essence today, Smollett confirmed that he is in fact "OK," adding, "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."
Regarding the ongoing investigation, 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," he added. "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."
Smollett's statement comes just a day after his family voiced their support for the actor and issued a concise condemnation of the attack stating, "we want to be clear, this was a racial and homophobic hate crime." They went on to say, "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."
If you're experiencing anti-LGBTQ hate violence in the Chicago area, reach out to local NCAVP partner Center on Halsted Anti-Violence Project at (773) 472-6469, Ext. 474. For incidents across the nation, find your local NCAVP partner at avp.org/ncavp.