Empire actor Jussie Smollett has broken his silence about the alleged homophobic and racist attack he told police he endured early Tuesday morning in Chicago.
“Let me start by saying that I’m OK,” Smollett said in a statement to Essence magazine Friday. “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 singer-songwriter added that he is fully cooperating with police, and said his story has not changed.
“I am working with authorities and have been 100% factual and consistent on every level,” he continued. “Despite my frustrations and deep concern with certain inaccuracies and misrepresentations that have been spread, I still believe that justice will be served.”
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Smollett’s statement came a day after several media outlets reported he had refused to turn over his cell phone to investigators with the Chicago Police Department.
On Thursday NBC News reported that Smollett “declined to share telephone records that could show he was speaking with his manager during his alleged assault.” NBC cited Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi in its report.
Smollett’s manager reportedly told officers he was on the phone with the actor when the assault happened and heard the assailants yell “this is MAGA country.” Police are seeking cell phone records to confirm the call.
On Jan. 29, the actor told officers he was attacked while leaving a Subway restaurant. The 35-year-old star said he was beaten after the attackers shouted “racial and homophobic slurs towards him,” CPD told Urban Hollywood 411.
During the incident, the perpetrators doused Smollett with a chemical and “wrapped a rope around” his neck, police said.
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Smollett’s statement to the media followed remarks by his family Thursday, when they described the attack as “domestic terrorism,” and called on police to bring the suspects to justice.
“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,” his family said, adding that hate crimes happen far too often. “These are inhumane acts of domestic terrorism and they should be treated as such.”
On Friday, Smollett reiterated his family’s remarks.
“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,” the actor said. “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.”