Family of Jussie Smollett defend calling attack a hate crime
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The family of “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett released a statement Thursday defending the characterization of the attack against him as a "racial and homophobic hate crime."

"In the early hours of Tuesday morning, our beloved son and brother, Jussie, was the victim of a violent and unprovoked attack," they wrote.

"We want to be clear, this was a racial and homophobic hate crime. Jussie has told the police everything from the very beginning. His story has never changed, and we are hopeful they will find these men and bring them to justice."

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"We want people to understand these targeted hate crimes are happening to our sisters, brothers and our gender non-conforming siblings, many who reside within the intersection of multiple identities, on a monthly, weekly, and sometimes even daily basis all across our country," the family added. "Oftentimes ending fatally, these are inhumane acts of domestic terrorism and they should be treated as such. They will continue to occur until we hold each other accountable."

The Chicago Police Department is investigating an attack against Smollett, who is black and gay, on Tuesday morning as a hate crime.

Smollett told police that two assailants who attacked him were yelling racist and homophobic slurs. He also said they tied a thin rope around his neck.

Chicago police said Wednesday that they had not yet found footage proving the details of the attack given by Smollett.

On Thursday the department said Smollett refused to turn his cellphone over to detectives, NBC News reports. Call records could confirm that he was on the phone with his manager when the altercation occurred.

His manager told police he heard assaulters yell "this is MAGA country," officials said.

Chicago police have released surveillance footage of “potential persons of interest” in the incident but have not verified the details of the alleged attack.