Two days after Jussie Smollett was the victim of an apparent racial and homophobic attack, the Empire star’s family is speaking out.
In a joint statement to EW, they thanked everyone for their support, while also unequivocally calling this a hate crime and pledging to “continue to work for love, equity and justice until it reigns supreme in our nation and all over the world.”
“In the early hours of Tuesday morning, our beloved son and brother, Jussie, was the victim of a violent and unprovoked attack,” reads the statement. “We want to be clear, this was a racial and homophobic hate crime. 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. 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. 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. 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.”
Early Tuesday morning, Smollett, who is gay, was walking in Chicago, where Empire is filmed, when two alleged offenders approached him, reportedly yelling racial and homophobic slurs. According to a police report, the two unknown suspects attacked him, poured an unknown chemical substance on him, and wrapped a rope around his neck. The offenders, who Smollett claims yelled “this is MAGA country,” fled the scene; the actor and singer eventually transported himself to Northwestern Hospital and has since been discharged. The police have since released video surveillance images of “persons of interest” in the case.
President Donald Trump, Lee Daniels, Halle Berry, Barry Jenkins, and Ariana Grande are among those to have addressed the “horrible” incident.