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‘Empire’ Star Jussie Smollett Hospitalized After Alleged Homophobic and Racist Hate Crime In Chicago

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.

 

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.

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We got this @jussiesmollett 🌈👊🏾👊🏾

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Smollett’s Empire cast mates also released statements of support for him on social media. 

Co-creator Danny Strong weighed in, calling Smollett’s attackers “nothing but hate filled cowards.”

Social media was soon flooded with posts from celebrities and fans coming out in support of Smollett and expressing their anger over the attack.

Later the hashtag #JusticeForJussie began trending on Twitter.

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.

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Written by Dennis Matthew Livesey

Matt is a writer, designer, and native New Yorker. He has worked in film, where he enjoyed a brief career as a stand-in for Ian Holm; finance, where he pretended to understand his job, and real estate, where nothing remarkable happened. He writes about science, technology, and media. His work includes magazine articles, one published book, and the looming inevitability of the second.