‘Empire’ Star Jussie Smollett Attacked in Apparent Racist and Homophobic Attack
Empire star Jussie Smollett has been hospitalized following a suspected racist and homophobic attack against him in Chicago.
The 35-year-old actor was reportedly attacked by two men who beat him and put his head in a noose, all the while screaming, "This is MAGA country," per a TMZ report. Sources close to Smollett told the outlet he was walking to a Subway at about 2 a.m. local time when he was approached by the two white men wearing ski masks. His attackers reportedly shouted, "Aren't you that f----t Empire n-----?" before they began to beat on him.
Smollett is said to have put up a fight, but was seriously injured in the attack. He reportedly suffered a fractured rib in the altercation. His attackers are said to have then put a rope around his neck, poured a chemical substance – possibly bleach – on him and left him on the street. They're said to have shouted, "This is MAGA country" as they fled the scene.
The Chicago Police Department confirmed they received a report of a "possible racially-charged assault and battery involving a cast member of the television show." They are investigating the attack and "treating it as a possible hate crime." They are "working to gather video, identify possible witnesses and establish and investigative timeline" at this time. Smollett is said to be working with them to find his attackers.
Smollett was taken to Northwestern Memorial where he was treated for his injuries and discharged Tuesday morning. He is in "good condition," all things considered, according to authorities. Smollett hasn't spoken out since the attack.
The attack came days after ThatGrapeJuice.Net posted a letter that was sent to Fox Studios in Chicago, addressed to Smollett. The letter featured cut out letters that said, "You will die black f---." Sources told TMZ the letter was sent over a week ago. It's unclear whether it's linked to the recent attack, but it did list "MAGA" as the return address.
Empire creator Lee Daniels addressed the attack in an emotional Instagram post, in which he addressed Smollett as his son. He called on Americans to "love each other," adding that only through unity can racism and bigotry be stopped.
"It's taken me a minute to come to social media about this because, Jussie, you are my son," he wrote. "You didn't deserve – nor does anybody deserve – to have a noose put around your neck, to have bleach thrown on you, to be called, 'Die f----t n-----' or whatever they said to you. You are better than that. We are better than that. America is better than that."
Daniels continued, "It starts at home...We have to love each other regardless of what sexual orientation we are because it shows that we are...[a] united front and no racist f--- can come in an do the things they did to you. Hold your head up, Jussie. I'm with you, I'll be there in a minute. It's just another f------ day in America."
Several other co-stars also shared kind words for Smollett while he recovers from the attack.