'Empire' Star Jussie Smollett Hospitalized After Racist, Homophobic Attack

Jussie Smollett, star of Empire, was attacked in the early morning hours on Tuesday in Chicago. According to CNN, police have stated that Smollett was attacked by two people who were "yelling out racial and homophobic slurs" and "poured an unknown chemical substance on the victim." In a tweet by Phil Lewis, the police describe the details of the attack: “at some point during the incident, one of the offenders wrapped a rope around the victim's neck.” Smollett transported himself to the hospital and is in recovery. He has since spoken with CNN's Don Lemon to confirm that he was attacked by two white men in ski masks, also stating that he did fight back at his attackers. 

Days before the incident, Smollett was sent a threatening letter to Fox Studios’ Chicago office. The alarming words scrawled across the letter in bright red ink were “MAGA” and “you will die black f*g.” Also included in this threat was an illustration of a gun pointed at an individual.

 

Courtesy: That Grape Juice

 

Smollett has starred on Empire as Jamal Lyon, an openly gay man like himself, since 2015. In response to the attack, he has received support from his co-stars and the show’s creators. In an Instagram video post, Empire co-creator Lee Daniels addresses Smollett saying, “You didn't deserve, nor anyone deserves, to have a noose put around your neck,” he continued, “you are better than that. We are better than that. America is better than that. ... Hold your head up, Jussie. I'm with you, I'll be there in a minute. It's just another f****** day in America.” Celebrities including Zendaya, Taraji P. Henson, Laverne Cox and many more have shown their support of Smollett in regards to this horrific event.

 

Courtesy: TMZ

 

In the climate that America has found itself in, with fear as a burden that many people carry, it is alarming to see incidents like these continuing to occur each day. David Johns, executive director of the National Black Justice Coalition, issued an official statement on the matter urging that, “We must all work better together to combat the ignorance, hatred, and violence Black LGBTQ people face, and we need our governments and our elected officials to start condemning it openly and to fight back with transformative policy too.” 

These unfortunate occurrences are not rare. According to FBI data, there was a reported 17 percent increase in hate crimes between 2016 and 2017. The data showed that “58.1 percent were motivated by a race/ethnicity/ancestry bias … [and] 15.9 percent resulted from sexual-orientation bias.” Within the crimes based on sexual-orientation bias, “58.2 percent were classified as anti-gay (male) bias.” These statistics are more than just numbers, they represent the many people whose lives continue to be diminished by outdated discriminatory beliefs.

This event has shown light on the issue of racist and homophobic charged violence that remains to be resolved. In a tweet, Senator Cory Booker calls the attack an "attempted modern-day lynching" and called on Congress to pass an anti-lynching bill he has co-sponsored with Senator Kamala Harris. If passed, that bill would make lynching a federal hate crime, which would declare this sort of cruelty to not be tolerated or ignored. 

As reported by Fox News, Chicago police are investigating the attack and have “reviewed hundreds of hours of footage from downtown surveillance cameras but haven't found footage yet of the alleged attack.” Police also told Fox News that Smollett said the attackers yelled, “This is MAGA country,” in reference to President Trump’s campaign slogan. We wish Jussie Smollett a speedy recovery with both his physical injuries and any emotional distress that has resulted from this crime.