What You Need To Know: Jussie Smollett

'I will only stand for love': 'Empire' actor Jussie Smollett performs in California after attack

Chicago police are asking for the public’s help after “Empire” star Jussie Smollett reported he was attacked in the predawn hours Tuesday by two men who were shouting racial and homophobic slurs at him, according to authorities.

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Smollett sought medical treatment Tuesday after the attack, which police are investigating as a possible hate crime. 

Update 9:00 a.m. EST Feb. 3: Smollett performed his previously scheduled concert in Southern California Saturday, defying some family members and others who urged him to cancel since he  was reportedly attacked Tuesday in Chicago.

“The most important thing I can say is ’thank you so much, and I’m OK,” an emotional and determined Smollett told the sold-out crowd at the Troubadour in West Hollywood, The Associated Press reported.

“I’m not fully healed yet,” Smollett, said of the racist and homophobic attack, “But I’m going to be, and I’m gonna stand strong with y’all.”

“I had to be here tonight, y’all. I couldn’t let those (expletives) win, he said. “I will always stand for love. I will only stand for love.”

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Smollett also clarified some previously-reported details from the attack, saying he was bruised but his ribs weren’t cracked, and that he was not hospitalized, but sought medical treatment soon after the incident. He said his doctors cleared him to perform.

“And, above all, I fought the (expletive) back,” he said.

Although Smollett performed, the previously-scheduled meet-and-greet session was canceled, according to TMZ. An email was sent to ticketholders that said, “Jussie is so honored to perform for his fans, friends and family on Saturday night. However, please forgive us. For security reasons we cannot accommodate any meet & greets.”

THR reported that the money for the meet-and-greet would be refunded or donated in the purchaser’s name to the Black AIDS Institute in Los Angeles.

Update 1:15 p.m. EST Feb. 1: In his first public comments since Tuesday’s reported attack, Smollett said he’s “OK” and thanked the public for the its support.

“My body is strong but my soul is stronger,” Smollett said in a statement obtained by The Associated Press and several other outlets. “I am working with authorities and have been 100 (percent) factual and consistent on every level. Despite my frustrations and deep concern with certain inaccuracies and misrepresentations that have been spread, I still believe that justice will be served.”

Smollett told officers he was attacked around 2 a.m. Tuesday by two men as he was walking downtown near the Chicago River. He said they yelled that he was in “MAGA country,” an apparent reference to President Donald Trump’s campaign slogan, “Make American Great Again,” and that they hit him in the face, poured an “unknown substance” on him and wrapped a rope around his neck, the AP reported.

Authorities continue to investigate the case.

Update 10 p.m. EST Jan. 31: Chicago police told NBC Thursday  that  Smollett has not turned over his phone to detectives. 

“Both the victim and his manager have made statements to detectives that they were on the phone with each other. We were not able to independently verify that because they did not turn over cellphone records to police when asked,” police said in an email to the Chicago Tribune.

Detectives, who are investigating the case as a possible hate crime, have watched hundreds of hours of footage from private and public surveillance cameras, but gaps remain and they still haven’t seen video of the attack or men who match Smollett’s description of his assailants, police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said.

Update 3:45 p.m. EST Jan. 31: Smollett’s family called Tuesday’s attack a “racial, homophobic hate crime” in a statement released Thursday to TMZ.

“We want people to understand these targeted hate crimes are happening to our sisters, brothers and our gender non-conforming siblings,” the statement said. “These are inhumane acts of domestic terrorism and they should be treated as such.”

Smollett told officers his assailants struck around 2 a.m. Tuesday as he was walking downtown near the Chicago River. He said two men yelled that he was in “MAGA country,” an apparent reference to President Donald Trump’s campaign slogan, “Make American Great Again,” and that they hit him in the face, poured an “unknown substance” on him and wrapped a rope around his neck, The Associated Press reported.

Authorities continue to investigate the case.

Update 3 p.m. EST Jan. 31: Speaking with reporters at the White House on Thursday, President Donald Trump called the reported attack on Smollett horrible.

“I've seen it ... I think that's horrible,” the president said. “It doesn't get worse, as far as I'm concerned.”

Smollett told officers he was attacked early Tuesday morning by a pair of men as he was walking downtown, near the Chicago River. He said the men yelled that he was in “MAGA country,” an apparent reference to Trump’s campaign slogan, “Make American Great Again,” and that they hit him in the face, poured an “unknown substance” on him and wrapped a rope around his neck, The Associated Press reported.

Police continue to investigate.

Update 11:50 a.m. EST Jan. 31: Police continued Thursday to comb through surveillance video from near the area where Smollett reported he had been attacked in hopes of finding footage of the incident, The Associated Press reported.

Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi told the AP detectives recovered additional video of Smollett in downtown Chicago before and after the reported attack. Guglielmi said officers were combing through footage from some of the hundreds of surveillance cameras in the area on Thursday but he said their efforts were hampered by the variety of private and public surveillance systems used in the area and their sometimes differing timestamps.

“It’s like putting together a puzzle,” he told the AP.

Update: 11 p.m. EST Jan. 30: Detectives have reviewed surveillance footage of “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett walking to his downtown Chicago apartment, but so far none of the video shows him being attacked by two masked men, although investigators have obtained images of people they would like to question, a police spokesman said Wednesday.

Spokesman Anthony Guglielmi tweeted photos of the “persons of interest” Wednesday evening.

 

Investigators “for the most part” can confirm the route Smollett took early Tuesday when he says he was attacked along a street in the Streeterville neighborhood after visiting a sandwich shop, Guglielmi said. However, there are gaps, and none of the footage shows an attack, he said, although the review is ongoing.

Update: 6:40 p.m. EST Jan. 30: Police are expected to release surveillance video of two “persons of interest” in the attack early Tuesday morning on actor Jussie Smollett, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

Until now, detectives had said they were not able to release a description of Smollett’s attackers because they couldn’t find enough evidence after reviewing hundreds of hours of surveillance video from the surrounding area.

Now they say two individuals are wanted for questioning in the crime.

Update 11:30 a.m. EST Jan. 30: Police continued Wednesday to search for video that might show Smollett’s assailants.

Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said Tuesday night that authorities were combing through video footage, but that, “Thus far, no video of the alleged assailants or a vehicle has been discovered.”

 

The only relevant image police have found thus far was footage taken from a security camera in a Subway restaurant near the scene of the reported attack, according to CNN. In the image, Smollett appears to be standing alone, the news network reported.

Smollett told officers his assailants struck around 2 a.m. Tuesday as he was walking downtown near the Chicago River. He said two men yelled that he was in “MAGA country,” an apparent reference to President Donald Trump’s campaign slogan, “Make American Great Again,” and that they hit him in the face, poured an “unknown substance” on him and wrapped a rope around his neck, The Associated Press reported.

Guglielmi told the AP that Smollett still had a rope around his neck when officers first made contact with him after the attack.

Update 6:05 p.m. EST Jan. 29: So far, investigators “have not found anything to be able (to) put out a description” of the two suspects who Smollett said attacked him while he was walking down a city street early Tuesday morning, according to Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi.

 

Guglielmi said they have not found any evidence to help identify the perpetrators.

In a follow-up police interview Tuesday, Smollett told detectives that the attackers yelled “MAGA country,” according to WLS-TV, referring to President Donald Trump’s slogan “Make America Great Again.”

Smollett did not mention that in his initial police interview, authorities said.

Police also have a rope that was wrapped around Smollett’s neck during the attack, which they said will undergo testing.

 

Original story: In a statement released Tuesday, police did not identify any of the people involved in the incident beyond saying it “involved a cast member of the television show ‘Empire.’” Smollett, 36, and a representative of 20th Century Fox Television and Fox Entertainment confirmed later to CNN that the incident had taken place.

"We are deeply saddened and outraged to learn that a member of our 'Empire' family, Jussie Smollett, was viciously attacked last night," a 20th Century Fox Television and Fox Entertainment representative told the news network. "We send our love to Jussie, who is resilient and strong, and we will work with law enforcement to bring these perpetrators to justice. The entire studio, network and production stands united in the face of any despicable act of violence and hate -- and especially against one of our own."

CNN reported Smollett was “in good condition” after the attack, though he was also “shaken and angry that an attack like this could happen.”

Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi described the incident as a “possible racially-charged assault.” Smollett came out as gay in 2015 during an appearance on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” according to The Huffington Post. His sexuality might have played a role in the attack, according to entertainment news site TMZ.

Police told WBBM-TV that Smollett was walking on E. Lower Water Street when he was approached by two people who were yelling racial and homophobic slurs.

“The offenders then attacked the victim with their hands and poured an unknown chemical substance on the him,” WBBM-TV reported. “A rope was also wrapped around the victim’s neck.”

The offenders ran from the scene and Smollett took himself to Northwestern Hospital, where he was treated and released later Tuesday, according to the news station and TMZ.

“Given the severity of the allegations, we are taking this investigation very seriously and treating it as a possible hate crime,” Guglielmi said. “Detectives are currently working to gather video, identify potential witnesses and establish an investigative timeline.”

 

>> On AJC.com: Jussie Smollett chats debut album and ‘Empire’ during Atlanta visit 

Officials continue to investigate. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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