(Warning: This article contains sensitive language.)
Jussie Smollett is best known for his current role on the hit television drama “Empire.”
The actor plays a character named Jamal Lyon, who is a gay R&B singer and songwriter. Much of the character’s storyline focuses on him being gay and his father’s disapproval of his lifestyle.
Smollett is also gay in real life.
Now, CNN is reporting that authorities believe Smollett was targeted because he is gay and because of the color of his skin.
According to Chicago police, during the early morning hours of January 29, two people attacked Smollett and “yelled out racial and homophobic slurs” at him before pouring “an unknown chemical substance on the victim.”
One of the attackers then tied a rope around Smollett’s neck before both of the suspects took off. As TMZ reports, the attackers reportedly yelled “Aren’t you that f****t ‘Empire’ n****r?” and “This is MAGA country.”
According to TMZ, the attackers were also reportedly described as “white and wearing ski masks.” However, a website called Reason is reporting that Chicago police are denying that the attackers were ever described as “white”:
“According to the victim, the offenders’ faces were concealed. We have no record indicating that [they shouted ‘MAGA’], we only have record of them shouting racial and homophobic slurs at him.”
Smollett later reportedly took himself to Northwestern Memorial Hospital, where he was treated for his injuries.
He has since been labeled as in “good condition.” Police said in a statement:
“Given the severity of the allegations, we are taking this investigation very seriously and treating it as a possible hate crime.”
CNN’s Don Lemon was able to speak with the actor and his friends while he was in the hospital. Smollett admitted that he is “shaken and angry that an attack like this could happen.”
He also said he fought back during the attack.
A representative from 20th Century Fox Television and Fox Entertainment released this statement to CNN:
We are deeply saddened and outraged to learn that a member of our “Empire” family, Jussie Smollett, was viciously attacked last night. We send our love to Jussie, who is resilient and strong, and we will work with law enforcement to bring these perpetrators to justice. 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.
The attack comes reportedly eight days after Smollett allegedly received a threatening letter. The note, which was spelled out using magazine letters, read:
You will die black f*g.
Smollet has received a wave of support on social media since news of the hate crime broke.
OMG!! THIS is why the LGBTQ community continue to fight to be seen and PROTECTED against hate!
— Viola Davis (@violadavis) January 29, 2019
Lee Daniels is breaking his silence about the racist and homophobic attack on Jussie Smollett: “You are better than that. We are better than that. America is better than that.” pic.twitter.com/Z4IwhOEO5L
— Entertainment Tonight (@etnow) January 29, 2019
Anyone with information regarding the attack is asked to call Area Central Detectives at 312-747-8382.