Jussie Smollett, the actor best known for his role on Fox's hit drama Empire, was hospitalized following an assault that took place in Chicago. Smollett was attacked by two currently unidentified individuals at around 2 a.m. Local authorities are currently investigating, with the help of the FBI. CPD spokesman Anthony Guglielmi had this to say in a statement.
"Given the severity of the allegations, we are taking this investigation very seriously and treating it as a possible hate crime. Detectives are currently working to gather video, identify potential witnesses and establish an investigative timeline."
Authorities have been collecting and reviewing footage from private and city cameras in order to aid in the investigation. According to reports, Jussie Smollett's attackers first got his attention by yelling racial and anti-gay slurs at him. Smollett's character on Empire is a gay musician and he self-identifies as gay, in addition to being an activist within the LGBTQ community. Following the verbal attack, the two individuals poured an unidentified chemical on Smollett, then wrapped a rope around his neck before fleeing the scene. 20th Century Fox, the studio behind Empire, released the following statement after news of the incident broke.
"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 actor was and is now said to be in "good condition." Empire has been a huge hit for Fox since it debuted in 2015. The music-centric drama also stars Terrence Howard, Taraji P. Henson and Bryshere Gray. The series spends much of the year filming in Chicago, where the attack took place. Producer Brian Grazer also released a statement, not only sharing his kind words for Jussie Smollett, but also sharing his disgust for those who committed the crime.
"I am disgusted and saddened by the attack on Jussie, one of the nicest and most genuine people I have worked with. I send him much love on his recovery. Hate and bigotry have no place in our society."
In the wake of the news, there has been an outpouring of support on social media from those around Hollywood from people such as Michael B. Jordan, Mindy Kaling and Empire co-star Danny Strong. Series creator Lee Daniels took to Instagram to release an impassioned video in support of the young star, referring to him as his "son," which we have shared below. Organizations such as the ACLU and the Human Rights Campaign also shared their support. Fox hasn't provided any indication as to whether or not this will affect the show's production schedule. This news was previously reported by the Chicago Tribune.
I’m deeply horrified and saddened by the racist and homophobic attacks against @JussieSmollett. He is a kind and profoundly talented soul whom I respect with all my heart. The terror of racism and homophobia has no place in our society, it is the most indecent way to live...— Danny Strong (@Dannystrong) January 29, 2019
As a fellow #StonewallAmbassador, my heart goes out to @JussieSmollett. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, which launched the LGBTQ civil rights movement. This horrific incident underscores the struggle we still face. Thank you Jussie for your courage. https://t.co/RFnbu2dd2P— George Takei (@GeorgeTakei) January 29, 2019
When people make it an agenda to physically attack a person based on the color of their skin or sexual orientation, let’s call it what it is. A hate crime. F*ck your hate. We will double it with love which you cannot take down. I stand with you #JussieSmollett— Harry Shum Jr (@HarryShumJr) January 29, 2019
.@JussieSmollett is one of the kindest, most gentle human beings I know. I’m praying for his quick recovery.— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) January 29, 2019
This was an attempted modern day lynching. No one should have to fear for their life because of their sexuality or color of their skin. We must confront this hate.
Jussie Smollett was violently attacked by two white men who poured bleach on him and put a noose around his neck. He was targeted for being black and for being gay. THIS is why we have to have zero tolerance against homophobia and racism. Jussie’s life matters.— Olivia Munn (@oliviamunn) January 29, 2019
I am disgusted and horrified to hear of the homophobic and racial attack on Jussie Smollett last night. Unfortunately, these hateful attacks happen way too often. We must call out and hold those accountable. Sending love to you, Jussie.— Mindy Kaling (@mindykaling) January 29, 2019
LGBTQ people of color live at multiple intersections of oppression, too often facing violence compounded by both racism and homophobia.— ACLU (@ACLU) January 29, 2019
This isn't the America we want to live in.
Our thoughts are with Jussie Smollett and all survivors. https://t.co/o9JG2z3VnG
No matter what's happening around us, @JussieSmollett is ALWAYS quick w/ a massive smile & hug. Thats the kind of man he is. The homophobic, racist hate crime against him & hate crimes against countless others cannot stand. Rebuke hatred any & every time it rears its ugly head.— Gabrielle Union (@itsgabrielleu) January 29, 2019
This morning brought breaking news that longtime LGBTQ advocate and friend of HRC, Jussie Smollett, was the victim of a possible hate crime attack in which racist, homophobic slurs were hurled as he was reportedly beaten in Chicago.— Human Rights Campaign (@HRC) January 29, 2019
Statement from @HRC President @ChadHGriffin: