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‘Empire’ star Jussie Smollett’s family speaks out: ‘This was a racial and homophobic hate crime’

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‘Empire’ star Jussie Smollett’s family speaks out: ‘This was a racial and homophobic hate crime’


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Chicago Police released surveillance images of two people who may be connected to the alleged attack on “Empire” star Jussie Smollett.
USA TODAY

The family of “Empire” star Jussie Smollett, who was attacked in the early hours of Tuesday morning, is speaking out.

In a statement to USA TODAY Thursday, the family declared it was clear the attack was a hate crime.

“In the early hours of Tuesday morning, our beloved son and brother, Jussie, was the victim of a violent and unprovoked attack,” the statement read. “We want to be clear, this was a racial and homophobic hate crime.”

Police are investigating the incident as as a “possible hate crime.”

The statement continued, “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 spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said Thursday that detectives have recovered surveillance-camera footage of Smollett arriving home at his apartment with a rope around his neck. The video was recorded minutes after the actor said he was attacked by two masked men. Investigators still have still have not managed to locate footage of the assault itself.

The actor said his attackers poured an “unknown chemical substance” on him, and used racial and homophobic slurs. Smollett, who is black and gay, later told police his assailants yelled, “This is MAGA country!” during the incident.

The family also thanked fans for their kindness. 

“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,” the statement read. “We are so grateful that God saw him through this cowardly attack alive. Jussie is a warrior whose light cannot be dimmed.”

The statement also addressed “targeted hate crimes” as a whole, saying these attacks will continue unless we “hold each other accountable.”

“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 statement read. “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.”

The family reiterated the importance of combating hatred.

“Make no mistake, words matter. Hateful words lead to hateful actions. Radical love is the only solution, but passivity will be our downfall,” the statement concluded. “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.”

Contributing: Jayme Deerwester, Cydney Henderson

More: ‘Empire’ co-star Taraji P. Henson decries Jussie Smollett attack: ‘Hate will not win’

More: Kevin Hart defends himself after Twitter drags his post supporting Jussie Smollett

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