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(SKY NEWS) — Actor Jussie Smollett has said he has been “100% factual and consistent on every level” about a suspected racist and homophobic attack in which a rope was wrapped around his neck.
The Empire star said he was targeted in Chicago by two men who beat him up and also poured an unknown substance over him.
Smollett disputed claims on social media that he has not been fully co-operative and has changed his story.
“I am working with authorities and have been 100% factual and consistent on every level,” he said in a statement released by an intermediary a day after his family put out a similar statement.
“Despite my frustrations and deep concern with certain inaccuracies and misrepresentations that have been spread, I still believe that justice will be served.”
In a separate statement sent to US magazine Essence three days on from the assault, he said he wanted to let fans know he is recovering and thank well-wishers for the support he has received.
“Let me start by saying that I’m okay,” Smollett said. “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.”
Smollett, 35, is gay, and plays gay character Jamal Lyon in Empire.
He went on to say that “cowardly attacks are happening to my sisters, brothers and non-gender conforming siblings daily” and that his should not be considered an isolated incident.
“We will talk soon and I will address all details of this horrific incident, but I need a moment to process,” he added.
“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.”
Smollett’s family said they believe he was the victim of an unprovoked “racial and homophobic hate crime” and that they are hopeful police “will find these men and bring them to justice”.
They also thanked the public “for their prayers” and said the family is “so grateful that God saw him through this cowardly attack alive.
Meanwhile, police have released photographs of two “people of interest” following the attack.
Anthony Guglielmi, spokesman for Chicago Police, posted on Twitter: “Photos of people of interest who were in area of the alleged assault & battery of Empire cast member.
“While video does not capture an encounter, detectives are taking this development seriously & wish to question individuals as more cameras are being reviewed.”
Smollett has received an outpouring of support following the attack, with stars including Ariana Grande, Viola Davis and Janelle Monae posting messages on social media.
Grande said: “Sending all of the healing energy / love i possibly can and hoping for change. what can we do ? tell me & i’m there.”
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