Empire star Jussie Smollett has been hospitalized after a homophobic and racist attack in Chicago. The actor currently stars as openly gay musician Jamal Lyon on the musical drama, and came out as gay during an appearance on Ellen in 2015.
According to a report from the Chicago Police Department, a 30-year-old male, subsequently confirmed to be Smollett, was exiting a Subway in the 300 block of East Lower Water Street when two unknown offenders approached him and began yelling racial and homophobic slurs towards him. Police are classifying the attack as a possible hate crime. According to police, the offenders attacked the victim with their hands and poured bleach onto him. One of the offenders then wrapped a rope around Smollett’s neck. According to TMZ, the attackers used homophobic and racial slurs as they attacked Smollett, and yelled “This is MAGA country!”* Smollett is reported to be in good physical condition.
In a statement to Entertainment Tonight, Chicago Police Department spokesperson Anthony Gugliemli said, “Overnight, the Chicago Police Department received a report of a possible racially-charged assault and battery involving a cast member of the television show Empire. Given the severity of the allegations, we are taking this investigation very seriously and treating it as a possible hate crime. Detectives are currently working to gather video, identify potential witnesses and establish an investigative timeline. The victim is fully cooperating with investigators and we ask anyone with information about this incident to contact Area Central Detectives at 312-747-8382 or report it anonymously to www.cpdtip.com.”
*Update, 6:41 p.m.: A spokesman for the Chicago Police Department told Reason it had no records to support TMZ’s report that Smollett’s attackers yelled “This is MAGA country!” “We only have record of them shouting racial and homophobic slurs at him,” the spokesman said.
* Update, 10:59 p.m.: Although the initial police report did not mention the pro-Make-America-Great-Again comments TMZ reported, detectives added that detail in a supplemental police report after interviewing Smollett again, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Reason has updated their story to reflect this.