Empire star Jussie Smollett has broken his silence following the Tuesday attack upon him on Tuesday in the Windy City. Chicago PD and the FBI are working the case, which reportedly involved two ski-mask wearing men hitting him over the head, placing a noose around his neck, and pouring bleach on him while yelling homophobic and racial slurs. His statement arrives alongside more information about the threatening letter that was said to be received on the Empire set last week. The envelope containing the letter included a white powder that was determined to be aspirin by a HAZMAT unit, although law enforcement hasn’t divulged the message within the letter.
“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 actor and singer turned to an unavoidable subject, presumably involving the chatter that he and his manager are somehow not cooperating by turning over their cell phones and records (to tangibly prove that they were on the phone with each other during the attack). The Chicago PD has stated that they have “no reason to doubt” the independent statements made by both parties, only that they haven’t been able to independently confirm the time of the call via cell records. Smollett insists to Essence that he’s working with police:
“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.”
Smollet also addressed a statement from his family — who has called the attack “inhumane” and an act of “domestic terrorism” while describing Jussie as “a warrior whose light cannot be dimmed” — and explained that he would soon fully address details of the assault:
“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.”
In the immediate aftermath of Tuesday’s events, public figures rallied around Smollett to express solidarity. Kevin Hart suffered backlash while doing so and was compelled to defend himself in light of his past homophobic jokes and tweets that recently led him to abandon the Oscar hosting gig. In addition, Umbrella Academy star Ellen Page visited the Late Show With Stephen Colbert, where she blamed VP Mike Pence for his past policies and current views that she believes have contributed to the normalization of homophobia.
The Chicago PD has released a blurry photo of two men that they’re seeking for questioning in relation to the attack. Law enforcement is urging anyone with information about the attack to call 312-717-8382 or report tips anonymously at cpdtip.com.