CHICAGO — “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett has responded to critics who question his report about being attacked in downtown Chicago last month, saying it was “ridiculous” to think he would lie.
Smollett, 36, told police that two masked men shouted racial and homophobic slurs before attacking him and putting a rope around his neck while he was walking outside around 2 a.m. on January 29.
Smollett, who is black, Jewish and gay, told ABC News that he left the rope and clothes on when police arrived “because I wanted them to see.” He said he’s heard various stories about people questioning the attack, which he said occurred while he was out getting food at a Subway restaurant.
“I’ve heard that it was a date gone bad, which I also resent that narrative,” he said. “I’m not gonna go out and get a tuna sandwich and a salad to meet somebody. That’s ridiculous. And it’s offensive.”
The singer and actor said the attackers also yelled “this is MAGA country,” referencing President Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan. Smollett said earlier reports from some media outlets that his attackers were wearing “MAGA” hats were inaccurate.
“I didn’t need to add anything like that,” he said. “I don’t need some MAGA hat as the cherry on top of some racist sundae.”
No arrests have been made. Police said they’ve not found surveillance video that shows the attack but that the investigation is ongoing.
Smollett said he didn’t want to call police at first, but that his friend and creative director, Frank Gatson, called on his behalf.
Smollett said he didn’t initially want to give police his cellphone for their investigation because the device contains private content and phone numbers. Smollett gave detectives heavily redacted phone records that police have said are insufficient for a criminal investigation.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report