‘Empire’ Star Jussie Smollett Hospitalized In Racist Attack Investigated As Hate Crime

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Written by Dana Sanchez

“Empire” star Jussie Smollett was released from hospital Tuesday after a racist and homophobic assault and battery by two masked white men who yelled “This is MAGA country” as they attacked him.


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The attack is being investigated as a hate crime, said Chief Anthony Guglielmi of the Chicago Police Department in a statement Tuesday.

Smollett plays gay character Jamal Lyon on “Empire.” He joined the hit
20th Century Fox Television show in 2015. He also starred in the 2017 film “Marshall.”

Sources close to Smollett told TMZ that Smollett arrived in Chicago from New York late Monday, and went out at around 2 a.m. because he was hungry. He went to a Subway. “We’re told when shortly after he walked out on his way home, someone yelled, “Aren’t you that f***ot ‘Empire’ n*****?” 

Smollett fought back, but the men beat him badly and fractured a rib. They put a rope around his neck, poured bleach on him and as they left they yelled, “This is MAGA country,” TMZ reported. 

Jussie checked himself into Northwestern Memorial where he was treated and discharged later Tuesday morning.

Smollett came out as gay during an appearance on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” in March 2015.

Jussie Smollett at an “Empire” event in LA in 2015. Photo: John Salangsang/AP

In addition to acting, Smollett is also a singer and a well-known H.I.V./AIDS prevention activist, New York Times reported. A board member of the Black AIDS Institute, Smollett donated a portion of the proceeds to the organization from his 2018 tour from the album, “Sum of My Music.”

His parents, Janet Smollett and Joel Smollett Sr., were civil-rights activists. 

Hate crimes are generally underreported and they have been rising in recent years. They increased 17 percent in 2017 from the year before. according to the most recent nationwide data from the F.B.I.

Of the 7,100 recorded hate-crime incidents attributed to prejudice in 2017, about 60 percent were involved race, ethnicity and ancestry biases. About 16 percent were attacks on sexual orientation.

Fox Studios in Chicago received a letter eight days ago that was addressed to Smollett with cut out letters spelling, “You will die black f**.” ThatGrapeJuice.Net first posted the letter, TMZ reported. The envelope appeared to say “MAGA” in the upper left corner.

Support poured in through social media Tuesday for Smollett after the attack. His boss, “Empire” co-creator, Lee Daniels, and co-star Vivica A. Fox.

“Jussie, you are my son. You didn’t deserve, nor anybody deserves, to have a noose put around your neck, to have bleach thrown on you, to be called ‘die, (expletive, (expletive),’ or whatever they said to you,” Daniels said on Instagram.

Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) tweeted about the attack and stressed the urgent need to pass legislation that adds lynching to the list of federal hate crimes.

John Legend tweeted support the Smollett family after the horrific attack, and prayers for peace and justice.

Zendaya called for “attention to what’s happening here.”

Shonda Rhimes encouraged her followers to rise up against incidents like this.