Richard Shotwell, Invision
In this May 20, 2016 file photo, actor and singer Jussie Smollett attends the "Empire" FYC Event in Los Angeles. Chicago police say they're interviewing two "persons of interest" who surveillance photos show were in the downtown area where Smollett says he was attacked last month. A police spokesman said Thursday the two men aren't considered suspects but may have been in the area at the time Smollett says he was attacked. Smollett says two masked men shouted racial and homophobic slurs before beating him and putting a rope around his neck on Jan. 29.

SALT LAKE CITY — Jussie Smollett declared himself “a man of faith” after prosecutors dropped charges against the “Empire” actor.

Smollett was charged with 16 counts related to making a false report that he had been assaulted. Prosecutors insist Smollett faked a racist, anti-gay attack on himself in hopes of gaining attention and furthering his acting career, The Associated Press reports.

Smollett pleaded not guilty in a March 14 arraignment on a 16-count indictment of lying to police about the incident in which, he said, he was attacked by two masked men who made homophobic and racist comments against him.

Smollett spoke with reporters in the immediate moments after the charges were dropped against him. He said his faith and community would not make him want to commit these alleged crimes.

Here’s his full statement, according to Deadline:

  • “I just made a couple notes. 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 prayed for me, who have supported me and who have showed me so much love. No one will ever know how much that has meant to me, and I will be forever grateful.
  • “I want you to know that not for a moment was it in vain. I have been truthful and consistent on every level since Day 1. I would not be my mother’s son if I was capable of one drop of what I’ve 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.
  • “Now, I’d like nothing more than to get back to work and move on with my life. But make no mistakes, I will always continue to fight for the justice, equality and betterment of marginalized people everywhere. So again thank you for all the support. Thank you for faith and thank you to God. Bless you. Thank you very much."
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Flashback: Smollett spoke out against doubters in a “Good Morning America” segment back in February, which was before he was arrested, The Daily Beast reported. He said his doubters would have believed him if he blamed Muslims.

  • “I have to acknowledge the lies, and the hate. And it feels like if I had said it was a Muslim, or a Mexican, or someone black, I feel like the doubters would have supported me much more. A lot more. And that says a lot about the place that we are in our country right now.”