“Empire” star Jussie Smollett spoke out Friday for the first time since he was reportedly assaulted by two men in Chicago earlier this week.
“Let me start by saying that I’m OK,” Smollett said in a statement. “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.”
Smollett was attacked at around 2 a.m. Tuesday in Chicago’s Streeterville neighborhood when he said that two people began yelling racial and homophobic slurs at him. In a statement on Tuesday, the Chicago Police Department said a “cast member from the Fox series ‘Empire’ was injured in what police called a ‘possible racially-charged assault and battery.'”
On Thursday, the Chicago Police Department said that Smollett and his manager had not provided phone records that would help the department investigate Smollett’s case. However, in his statement Friday, Smollett addressed what he called “inaccuracies and misrepresentations” that have circulated in the days following the attack, saying that he is working with authorities.
“I am working with authorities and have been 100 percent factual and consistent on every level,” Smollett continued. “Despite my frustrations and deep concern with certain inaccuracies and misrepresentations that have been spread, I still believe that justice will be served. “
On Friday, an individual close to the situation told TheWrap that Smollett was never specifically asked by police to specifically hand over his phone records. Rather, they “casually asked if he wanted to turn over his phone,” which Smollett was not comfortable doing. Smollett’s team has since offered to hand over his phone records, the individual said.
Smollett and his manager, Brandon Z. Moore, have told police that they were talking with each other on the phone when Smollett was attacked in Chicago early Tuesday. Smollett told police two men attacked him while yelling racial and homophobic slurs and referencing “MAGA,” according to police. A police statement said chemicals were poured on the “Empire” star’s face, and a rope placed around his neck.
On Wednesday evening, detectives released photos from a surveillance video showing “potential persons of interest” in the attack.
“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,” Smollett’s statement continued. “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.”