“First of all, I want to thank my family, my friends, the incredible people of Chicago and all over the country and the world who have supported me, prayed for me, who showed me so much love,” Smollett began. “No one will ever know how much that has meant to me, and I will be forever grateful.”
He continued, “I want you to know that not for a moment was it in vain. I have been truthful and consistent on every single level since Day One. I would not be my mother’s son if I was capable of one drop of what I have been accused of. This has been an incredibly difficult time, honestly one of the worst of my entire life. But I am a man of faith and I am a man that has knowledge of my history, and I would not bring my family, our lives or the movement through a fire like this. I just wouldn’t.”
“I want to thank my legal counsel from the bottom of my heart, and I would also like to thank the state of Illinois for attempting to do what’s right. I would like nothing more than to get back to work and move on with my life, but make no mistake, I will always continue to fight for the justice, equality and betterment of marginalized people everywhere.”
Some background: In January, Smollett reportedly told police that two men approached him, yelled racist and homophobic slurs at him, beat him, placed a noose around his neck and doused him with a substance believed to be bleach, then ran away. The original report included allegations that the two men “yelled pro-‘Make America Great Again’ [MAGA] comments” during the assault.
Following a thorough investigation, a Chicago grand jury indicted the actor on 16 felony counts, believing that Smollett played a role in staging the alleged hate crime against himself. Smollett appeared in court on March 14, at which point he plead not guilty.
The effects of Smollett’s legal woes were felt far outside the courtroom. Despite initially having the support of his Empire family, Smollett ultimately saw his character Jamal written out of the season’s final episodes following his arrest. Additionally, TNT pulled Smollett’s episode of Drop the Mic from the air.
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