Empire actor and musician Jussie Smollett told fans at a concert in Los Angeles late Saturday that while he has “not fully healed yet” from a possible hate crime that left him hospitalized several days ago, “I’m going to be, and I’m gonna stand strong with y’all.”
Smollett, who is Black, gay, and Jewish, told Chicago police Tuesday that he was accosted by two people who assaulted and subjected him to racist and homophobic slurs.
His assailants are alleged to have battered his face before pouring what has been described as an unknown chemical substance on him. “At some point during the incident, one of the offenders wrapped a rope around the victim’s neck,” the police report reads.
Police confirmed Wednesday that the attackers yelled “MAGA country,” during the attack, a sign that the assailants were likely inspired by the inflammatory and racist rhetoric of President Donald Trump, who has yet to release a statement on the attack. Since Trump took office, hate crimes have increased, reaching the highest level in more than 10 years.
Smollett’s public appearance on Saturday was the first since he was hospitalized days ago. He told a cheering audience of nearly 300 people that it was important to him to “be here tonight … I couldn’t let those (expletives) … win … Above all, I fought … (expletive) back.”
“I don’t even care to name any names,” he added. “The hateful rhetoric that gets passed around, it has to stop. But guess what, it stops with the people that believe in love.”
He also told his fans not to be afraid to be “blacker and gayer.”
Chicago police are still investigating the attack and have not yet made any arrests. They have released photos of possible suspects and have asked the public to aid in identifying them.