Chicago — Jussie Smollett’s family said on Thursday that the attack on the black and gay Empire actor in downtown Chicago this week was a “hate crime” and they pushed back against any suggestion that he was anything but honest with the police.
Smollett, who plays the gay character Jamal Lyon on the hit Fox television show, hasn't spoken publicly about attack, which took place on Monday, though his representative said on Wednesday that Smollett was recovering at home.
Smollett's family issued a statement through a spokesperson on Thursday saying they believe he was the victim of an unprovoked "racial and homophobic hate crime" and that he has been forthright with the police, who are still searching for surveillance video of the attack.
"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," the family said.
They thanked the public "for their prayers" and said the family is "so grateful that God saw him through this cowardly attack alive."
"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 added that such incidents will continue to happen until people are held accountable.
SEE THE FULL STATEMENT HERE:
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Because there’s a light in him that cannot be dimmed, because we are a family of joyful warriors, we will not let this get the best of us. Although this is a picture from happier times, this is the spirit to which we chose to move forward...they will not steal, our joy. ????????? Statement from our family: “ In the early hours of Tuesday morning, our beloved son and brother, Jussie, was the victim of a violent and unprovoked attack. 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. With love & gratitude, The Smollett Family”
UPDATE ON THE CASE
Detectives have recovered more surveillance footage of Smollett walking in downtown Chicago before and after he says he was attacked by two masked men, including video of him arriving home with a rope around his neck, but they're still searching for footage of the attack, a police spokesperson said on Thursday.
The video from a surveillance camera at Smollett's apartment building showing him arrive home with a rope around his neck is part of a larger effort to obtain as much footage as possible of his walk from a Subway restaurant to his apartment.
Police spokeperson Anthony Guglielmi said detectives, who are investigating the case as a possible hate crime, have pieced together more footage from the hundreds of public and private surveillance cameras in that area of downtown Chicago, which is home to many high-end hotels and restaurants. But they still haven't found video of the attack or the men who match Smollett's description of the suspects.
Guglielmi said there are still many more videos for investigators to collect and go through as they try to get a complete picture of Smollett's walk home. It is tedious work that is made more difficult because the time stamps on various cameras may not be in sync, meaning detectives have to figure out the exact times of events, he said.
"It's like putting together a puzzle," he said.
Guglielmi said Smollett and his manager told detectives they were talking on the phone at the time of the attack, but that the 36-year-old actor declined to turn over his phone records to the detectives, who routinely ask for such information during criminal investigations.
Police are hoping to identify and talk to two people who were walking in the area at the time of the attack and whose grainy image the department released. Guglielmi stressed that the people are not considered suspects and that police want to question them because they were in the vicinity and might have useful information.