Empire star Jussie Smollett was attacked in Chicago in a possible racist and homophobic hate crime, reported NPR.
According to the Chicago Police Department, Smollett, a black gay man, was walking in Streeterville – a neighborhood in Chicago – at around 2 A.M. “when two unknown offenders approached him and gained his attention by yelling out racial and homophobic slurs towards him.” According to TMZ, the two were both white and wearing ski masks.
The attackers then beat Smollett, poured an unknown chemical substance on him, and wrapped a rope resembling a noose around his neck.
Statement on #ChicagoPolice hate crime investigation. We are taking these allegations very seriously and encourage anyone with information to report anonymously to https://t.co/yYAqzcVIfu pic.twitter.com/DxipALHXaz
— Anthony Guglielmi (@AJGuglielmi) January 29, 2019
The two fled on foot and as they left, they reportedly yelled, “This is MAGA country!” The actor then took himself to the hospital directly after. Authorities say he’s in good condition.
According to ThatGrapeJuice.net, Smollett received a threatening letter sent to Fox Studios that said “You will die black f**,” days before the attack.
Smollett plays Jamal Lyon, a gay man, on the Fox TV show Empire.
“We send our love to Jussie, who is resilient and strong, and we will work with law enforcement to bring these perpetrators to justice,” Twentieth Century Fox Television and Fox Entertainment told NPR. “The entire studio, network, and production stands united in the face of any despicable act of violence and hate – and especially against one of our own.”
Empire co-creator Lee Daniels posted a video on Instagram about the incident, addressing Smollett directly.
“You didn’t deserve, nor anyone deserves, to have a noose put around your neck,” he said. “You are better than that. We are better than that. America is better than that.”
GLAAD Communications Director Mathew Lasky called Smollett “a true champion for LGBTQ people” and “beloved by the community and allies around the world.”