Early Monday morning, Empire star Jussie Smollett was allegedly attacked by two masked white men in Chicago who beat and berated the 36-year-old actor while yelling racist and homophobic slurs and putting his head in a noose, pouring an unknown chemical on him before fleeing on foot. Smollett, who told police the two men yelled “this is MAGA country,” was transported to a nearby hospital.
After the initial release of a curiously worded statement, Chicago Police, who announced the investigation of the attack as a hate crime, identified two “persons of interest” while issuing a community alert featuring photos of two men walking away from an overhead security camera.
In the days since the attack near his home, Smollett has been the recipient of an outpouring of love from industry peers and and public servants alike. While social media users, celebrities and politicians have taken the time to decry the actions of the two suspects, (and, in the case of Rep. Maxine Waters, the president that emboldens them) media outlets have taken the path of least intellectual honesty in their descriptions of the racist, homophobic attack as “racially charged’ and possibly homophobic.
Thursday, Smollett’s family issued their first statement since the public learned of the attack against their loved one. In it, they took the time to condemn the act, along with the media’s rush to cowardice.
“To be clear, this was a racial and homophobic hate crime,”the family wrote. The statement also implored citizens to combat racism and homophobia wherever they see it, while highlighting the fear of random physical violence among members of the LGBTQ+ community and people of color alike.
The full statement reads:
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