Three days after he told police that he was attacked in a possible hate crime in Chicago, Jussie Smollett thanked his fans Friday and assured them that he was on his way to recovery, both mentally and physically.
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“Let me start by saying that I’m OK,” the 36-year-old “Empire” actor said in the statement to ABC News. “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.”
ESSENCE Magazine first reported Smollett’s statement.
And though Chicago Police have told ABC News that Smollett is only being viewed as the victim in this investigation, the actor is still bothered by some chatter online that his story may have changed in any way. Police also revealed video grabs earlier this week of two men that they hope to question about the incident.
“I am working with authorities and have been 100% factual and consistent on every level,” he said in the statement. “Despite my frustrations and deep concern with certain inaccuracies and misrepresentations that have been spread, I still believe that justice will be served.”
Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said the department was taking the case as seriously as it does any crime, but called Smollett a “victim” and said he’s been “cooperative.”
“The allegations are horrendous, horrible and cowardly,” Johnson said, adding, without specifics, that detectives have made progress. “We have no reason to believe he has not been genuine.”
In his statement, Smollett said attacks like the one he described 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,” he added.
Smollett said that he will address the details of the attack soon, but needs a “moment to process.”
“Most importantly, during times of trauma, grief and pain, there is still a responsibility to lead with love,” he said in the statement. “It’s all I know. And that can’t be kicked out of me.”
The “Empire” star told police he was attacked early Tuesday. He was subsequently hospitalized and released, local authorities said.
Smollett told police that the men also allegedly poured “an unknown chemical substance” on him, possibly bleach, and wrapped a rope around his neck, police said. The rope was still around Smollett’s neck when police spoke to him, officials said.
Smollett’s family also released a statement Thursday, saying he was the victim of a “violent and unprovoked attack.”
“We want to be clear, this was a racial and homophobic hate crime,” the family wrote in the statement to ABC News. “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 has told ABC News that a dozen detectives are pursuing new leads and have tracked the actor’s movements that morning through video and photos.
They said early Thursday that video shows Smollett walking across the street from two men, whose photos were released late Wednesday to the public. In the video, Smollett walks out of frame for about a minute and reappears on another camera “wearing a rope like a neck tie,” police said.