Chicago police are investigating an attack on Empire‘s Jussie Smollett after the actor was hospitalized for being beaten by two men, who also hurled racial and homophobic slurs at him while tying a noose around his neck and pouring an unknown chemical substance on his face.
The horrific attack is being investigated as a possible hate crime. Smollett had landed in Chicago and was attacked by two men who “gained his attention by yelling out racial and homophobic slurs towards him” early Tuesday morning as he exited a Subway restaurant, according to a report from the Chicago Police Department. The attackers fled the scene, and police are attempting to locate any video footage of the incident and talk to any possible witnesses.
TMZ reports that the attackers were wearing ski masks and are alleged to have shouted “This is MAGA country!” before fleeing. Smollett has reportedly been targeted by hate mail that was sent to Fox Studios in Chicago.
Smollett himself was discharged from the hospital on Tuesday. In addition to acting, Smollett is a singer/songwriter who publicly came out as gay in 2016.
Empire co-creator Danny Strong took to Twitter to condemn the attacks.
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