Jussie Smollett’s family has issued a statement condemning the attack against the “Empire” star earlier this week, calling it an act of “domestic terrorism.”
“In the early hours of Tuesday morning, our beloved son and brother, Jussie, was the victim of a violent and unprovoked attack,” the family said in a statement obtained by TheWrap. “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.”
Chicago police are in search of two men after Smollett was attacked in Chicago’s Streeterville neighborhood on Tuesday. Two men approached the “Empire” star yelling racist and homophobic slurs and “began to batter the victim with their hands about the face and poured an unknown chemical substance on the victim,” according to police. Police also said one of the attackers put a rope around his neck.
The Smollett family statement continued, “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.”
On Wednesday, the Chicago police department released photos from a surveillance video showing “potential persons of interest” in the case. The photos showed two silhouettes walking in the area of where Smollett was sometime between 1:30 a.m. and 1:45 a.m., but did not show the actual attack.
Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said that CPD was “taking this development seriously & wish to question individuals as more cameras are being reviewed.”
The case has brought an outpouring of love for Smollett and widespread condemnation of the attack, though some have objected to the police description of the incident as a “possible hate crime.” However, a Chicago police officer said police routinely use the word “possible” in cases when the an investigation is not yet complete.
The Smollett family condemned all hate crimes in their statement, calling for “radical love” and accountability for perpetrators.
“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,” the family said. “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,” the statement concluded. “With love & gratitude, The Smollett Family.”