“Empire” star Jussie Smollett has given an emotional account of the night he says he was the victim of a racially motivated attack in Chicago, and said the doubters would probably have not questioned him if his attackers had been Muslim, Mexican or black.
“I have to acknowledge the lies, and the hate,” he told “Good Morning America” in an interview with host Robin Roberts that aired on Thursday. “And it feels like if I had said it was a Muslim, or a Mexican, or someone black, I feel like the doubters would have supported me much more. A lot more. And that says a lot about the place that we are in our country right now.”
Smollett said the attack took place on Jan. 29 at 2 a.m., after the actor says that two men jumped him, yelling racial epithets while placing a rope around his neck. A police statement said unspecified chemicals were poured on the star’s face, and a rope placed around his neck.
Chicago police have not made any arrests in the case and have issued statements seeking access to Smollett’s cellphone since he said he was on a call with his manager, Brandon Z. Moore, during the attack.
Smollett turned over redacted phone records, but a Chicago police spokesman, Anthony Guglielmi, said in a statement, “We are very appreciative of the victim’s cooperation however the records provided do not meet the burden for a criminal investigation.”
Smollett addressed why he was initially reluctant to hand over the records, saying he did not want his private information in the hands of the police.
“They wanted me to give my phone to the tech for three to four hours. I’m sorry but — I’m not gonna do that,” he said. “Because I have private pictures and videos and numbers: my partner’s number, my family’s number, my castmate’s number, my friends’ numbers, my private emails, my private songs, my private voice memos.”