Possible Hate Crime Against ‘Empire’ Star Jussie Smollett Sends Shockwaves Through Hollywood
UPDATE (January 30, 2019. 2:20pm EST): TMZ reported Tuesday evening that Chicago police later confirmed that, in a follow-up interview, Smollett said that his assailants had shouted “MAGA country” during the attack.
Actor Jussie Smollett was attacked in Chicago early Tuesday morning, January 29, according to a statement from the Chicago Police Department. The police report also described the incident as “a possible racially-charged assault and battery,” and stated that the department would be treating the attack as “a possible hate crime.” The Empire star is Black and openly gay.
Smollett lives in Chicago while filming Empire for FOX, and was leaving a restaurant in Chicago’s downtown Loop neighborhood around 2am when the two men attacked him, the Chicago Tribune reported. The 36-year-old actor posted a photo to his Instagram account and wrote a caption about landing in Chicago shortly before the attack reportedly happened.
The CPD statement describes the use of “racial and homophobic slurs” by Smollett’s assailants during the attack. It also notes that “one of the offenders wrapped a rope around the victim’s neck” and “poured an unknown chemical substance on the victim.”
The beating fractured Smollett’s rib, according to TMZ, and the actor transported himself to Northwestern Memorial Hospital, where police say he is in “good condition.”
TMZ reports that unnamed sources “directly connected” to the actor told the site that two men who attacked Smollett taunted him with racist and anti-gay slurs, and shouted, “This is MAGA country,” during the assault. Though this alleged statement has been widely repeated on social media posts about the attack, a spokesperson for the Chicago Police Department told The Daily Beast, “There is no report of that being said.”
News of the potentially racist and anti-gay attack on Smollett went viral on social media on Tuesday morning. Some celebrities spoke out about the incident, many of them expressing sadness and shock.
The CPD said in its statement that it is currently gathering more information.
(Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)