In the early morning hours of Tuesday, January 29th, Jussie Smollett was attacked by two assailants. According to Smollett, the assailants shouted both racial and homophobic slurs during the attack.
Smollett states that his attackers spilled bleach on him and attempted to wrap a rope around his neck. The authorities in Chicago are investigating the attack as a hate crime.
Smollett’s assailants attacked him outdoors, near a Subway Smollett was getting food at, around 2 in the morning. One of Smollett’s attackers shouted “This is MAGA country!” while attacking him and trying to wrap a noose around his neck. This was likely a reference to one of Donald Trump’s campaign slogans, “Make America Great Again.”
The attack followed a threatening letter sent to Smollett that included death threats and homophobic slurs. The envelope that housed the threat also sported the word MAGA in the corner. It is unclear whether Smollett’s ski-mask wearing assailants were also responsible for the threatening letter.
Smollett plays a major character named Jamal in Fox’s hit show, Empire. Like his character, Smollett identifies as a gay man. Jamal is a successful singer and member of the Lyon family on the show. Smollett is certain his role in the show and high profile is what prompted the attack, according to remarks made by the attackers.
Upon hearing the news of Smollett’s attack, the network issued a 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 stand united in the face of any despicable act of violence and hate — and especially against one of our own.
The incident is being investigated as a hate crime by Chicago authorities. Authorities have obtained surveillance video from a nearby Target store in order to ascertain more information about the attackers. Anyone with any knowledge of the attack is asked to contact Area Central Detectives at 312-747-8382.