Empire actor Jussie Smollett has spoken out after he was the victim of a reported racist and homophobic attack in Chicago.
Out TV star Smollett, who plays a high-profile gay character on Fox show Empire was attacked in the early hours of Tuesday (January 29) in Chicago.
The actor was hospitalised after the violent incident, in which he was reportedly branded a “faggot Empire n****r” and had a noose tied around his neck by two men.
Police have released CCTV stills of two people they are seeking to speak to in connection with the attack, with the FBI also assisting in the investigation.
Jussie Smollett: I will address all details of this horrific incident
Smollett spoke out about the incident for the first time on Friday (February 1) in a statement to Essence.
He wrote: “Let me start by saying that I’m OK.
“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.”
“These types of cowardly attacks are happening to my sisters, brothers, and non-gender conforming siblings daily.”
— Jussie Smollett
Smollett also addressed “frustrations and deep concern with certain inaccuracies and misrepresentations that have been spread,” a possible reference to alt-right conspiracy theories and misinformation surrounding the attack.
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He added: “I am working with authorities and have been 100% factual and consistent on every level.
“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.
“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.”
Jussie Smollett’s family branded attack ‘domestic terrorism’
Smollett’s comments come after a separate statement from his family, which branded the incident “domestic terrorism.”
The statement issued on Thursday (January 31) by the Smollett family said: “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.”
The family continued: “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.”