Actor Jussie Smollett is in the hospital after being brutally attacked in Chicago in what police are treating as a likely hate crime. The 35-year-old star of the hit show “Empire” was reportedly approached by two people who yelled racist and homophobic slurs, then physically beat him and poured an “unknown chemical substance” onto him, according to a report by the Chicago police.
“At some point during the incident, one of the offenders wrapped a rope around the victim’s neck,” the report continues. The attackers fled, and the “possible racially-charged assault” is under investigation by the Area Central Detectives. Smollett was able to take himself to the hospital; police report that he is in “good condition.”
The charismatic young actor and singer has been open about his gay identity and is an outspoken champion of LGBT and black rights. His father, an Ashkenazi Jew, died just before Smollett’s rise to fame.
“I don’t believe that we were created to hate,” he told Out Magazine in 2016, adding that executives behind “Empire” have asked him to cool it with public statements about violence against black Americans. “I believe that we were created only to love,” he added. “Love is the root of the happiest of times and of wars. Love, or lack of love — but love is the root of everything.”
TMZ reports that Smollett’s attackers yelled “This is MAGA country,” and called the actor “That f***ot ‘Empire’ n*****” before pouring bleach on him and putting him in the noose.
Jenny Singer is the deputy lifestyle editor for the Forward. You can reach her at Singer@forward.com or on Twitter @jeanvaljenny