Jussie Smollett, one of the stars of the Fox television show “Empire,” was attacked in Chicago early Tuesday morning by two people who yelled racial and homophobic slurs and wrapped a rope around his neck, according to the police, who said they were investigating the incident as “a possible hate crime.”
Smollett, who is black and publicly came out as gay in 2015, was walking on a downtown street when two people approached him and yelled the slurs, according to a statement from the Chicago Police Department. The attackers then began hitting Smollett in the face and poured an “unknown chemical substance” on him. One of the attackers also wrapped a rope around Smollett’s neck before the duo fled.
“Given the severity of the allegations, we are taking this investigation very seriously and treating it as a possible hate crime,” the police statement said.
The Chicago Sun-Times, citing a police spokesman, said that Smollett went to an apartment after the attack, and his manager called the police. When officers arrived, a “thin, light rope” was still around Smollett’s neck, said the spokesman. Officers suggested Smollett go to the hospital for lacerations on his face and neck. His manager took him there, and he was later released. In a follow-up interview later in the morning, The Sun-Times reported, Smollett told the police that the attackers yelled “this is MAGA country,” a reference to President Trump’s campaign slogan.
The newspaper also reported that the F.B.I. was looking into a letter sent to Fox offices in Chicago last week that contained threatening language toward Smollett and a white powdery substance. Read more via New York Times