Singer and Empire actor Jussie Smollet was hospitalized early Tuesday morning after an attack that Chicago police are calling a “possible hate crime.”
Police are saying that Smollett, who plays Jamal Lyon on Fox’s Empire, was approached by two people at about 2 a.m. on Tuesday morning as he was walking through downtown Chicago.
The unidentified assailants got Smollett’s attention by yelling racial and homophobic slurs at the black and openly gay actor.
According to the police report the assailants then began beating Smollett before pouring “an unknown chemical substance” on his face and putting a rope around neck.
— Complex (@Complex) January 29, 2019
After the attack Smollett took himself to Northwestern Memorial Hospital where he is said to be in “good condition.”
“Given the severity of the allegations, we are taking this investigation very seriously,” said CPD spokesman Anthony Guglielmi in a statement. “Detectives are currently working to gather video, identify potential witnesses and establish an investigative timeline.”
Police have also confirmed that an envelope containing a white substance and a homophobic slur were sent to the Cinespace Chicago Film Studios where Empire is filmed on Jan. 22, though they have not confirmed a connection between the envelope and the attack on Smollett.
Empire which premiered on Fox in 2015 is a musical drama that centers on the fictional music and entertainment company, Empire Entertainment and the drama among the founders’ family as they struggle to gain control of it.
After Empire’s debut Smollett, who plays a gay character on the show, also came out in real life during an appearance on the The Ellen Degeneres Show. Since then Smollett has been a vocal activist for LGBTQ rights and HIV education.
Following the assault 20th Century Fox Television released a statement condemning the attack.
“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.”
Empire co-creator Lee Daniels joined the network in condemning the attack with an impassioned statement on Instagram.
Smollett’s Empire cast mates also released statements of support for him on social media.
I'm just now hearing the news about the senseless hate attack on my #EMPiRE Nephew @JussieSmollett IM SO ANGRY AND HURT ABOUT THIS! THIS MUST STOP!! SPREAD LOVE NOT HATE! PRAYERS UP TO U NEPHEW! 😢😢🙇🏾♀️🙇🏾♀️ pic.twitter.com/p4GqfNW3An
— Vivica A. Fox (@MsVivicaFox) January 29, 2019
T H I S. I S. A M E R I C A.
I am TORN, I am ANGRY yet inspired by your strength. Took me a while to gather my thoughts & I’m still short of words! @JussieSmollett just know that you are loved! #FuckedUpWorld pic.twitter.com/CBzEJKT34E
— Ta'Rhonda Jones (@TaRhondajay) January 30, 2019
Co-creator Danny Strong weighed in, calling Smollett’s attackers “nothing but hate filled cowards.”
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
…whoever did this, do not forget that you are nothing but hate filled cowards while Jussie’s talent and activism will continue to shine a bright light on to the world for decades to come.
— Danny Strong (@Dannystrong) January 29, 2019
Social media was soon flooded with posts from celebrities and fans coming out in support of Smollett and expressing their anger over the attack.
Four years ago, @JussieSmollett came out on my show. I’m sending him and his family so much love today. ❤️
— Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow) January 29, 2019
Sending love to Jussie and the Smollett family after this horrific attack. We support you and pray that you find peace and justice.
— John Legend (@johnlegend) January 29, 2019
— Questlove (In E flat) (@questlove) January 29, 2019
This is happening. NOW. In OUR country. https://t.co/C1Zxsx9Y9Q
— Jesse Tyler Ferguson (@jessetyler) January 29, 2019
When the attackers used words like “f**got” and “n**ger,” stop calling it a “possible” hate crime. It’s a HATE CRIME. Period. This is atrocious. Standing with you @JussieSmollett #JusticeForJussie https://t.co/hjGIPrgbr4
— Sophia Bush (@SophiaBush) January 29, 2019
Later the hashtag #JusticeForJussie began trending on Twitter.
— Dylan Froom (@froomlaut) January 30, 2019
— Brian Wilson (@BWReditor) January 30, 2019
— Mark Hamill (@HamillHimself) January 30, 2019
Ironically @JussieSmollett bio says "I am simply here to help save the world. Nothing is more important than love. -JS". Sending you love light & healing better than you were before. May your purpose be stronger! #JusticeForJussie
— Charly (@CharlyGurl) January 29, 2019
Chicago police detectives say they are currently working to gather and review area surveillance, but they do not have any suspects yet. Detectives are asking for anyone with information related to the attack to call 312-747-8382 or report it anonymously to cpdtip.com.