'Empire' star Jussie Smollett assaulted in apparent racist, homophobic attack
In the early hours of Tuesday morning, Smollett, who is openly gay like his Empire character, was ambushed outside of a Chicago restaurant by two unidentified suspects "yelling racist and homophobic slurs," according to police. The attackers physically assaulted Smollett, poured an unknown chemical substance on him, and wrapped a rope around his neck, then fled the scene.
"Given the severity of the allegations, we are taking this investigation very seriously and treating it as a possible hate crime," stated the police.
Smollett was taken to Northwestern Hospital where he was treated for his injuries and is in "good condition." The police are "currently working to gather video, identify potential witnesses and establish an investigative timeline." Smollett is fully cooperating with their investigation and the two suspects have not yet been identified or apprehended.
TMZ reports several unconfirmed details about the horrific attack. According to sources close to Smollett, the incident occurred at 2AM after he went to eat at Subway, and the suspects were two white men wearing black ski masks. The insiders claim the suspects yelled "Aren't you that f****t 'Empire' n*****?" and that the "unknown chemical substance" was bleach. They also claim that when the assailants left, they yelled "This is MAGA country" and that the victim suffered a fractured rib. However, as of his writing, these details have not been confirmed by any other media outlets, nor Smollett himself.
TMZ also shared a letter sent to Fox Studios in Chicago addressed to Jessie Smollett, with creepy cut-out letters spelling "You will die black f**." This disturbing piece of hate mail was first reported by ThatGrapeJuice.net and TMZ's sources say the letter was sent 8 days. MAGA is scrawled on the upper left corner of the letter but it is not known if this letter is connected is to the attack. This letter has yet to be confirmed as legitimate by other media outlets.
In response to this horrendous crime, several celebrities sent their love to Smollett on social media, including Kerry Washington, John Legend, Zendaya and Billy Eichner.
20th Century Fox Television, which produces Empire, issued the following statement:
"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."
Our thoughts are with Smollett and his family, and hopefully he recovers quickly from this appalling assault.