CHICAGO — Chicago police have opened a hate crime investigation after a cast member of the television show “Empire” alleges he was attacked by men who shouted racial and homophobic slurs at him and physically attacked him.
TMZ reports 36-year-old Jussie Smollett was attacked by two men wearing ski masks while walking in downtown Chicago around 2 a.m. Tuesday. Chicago police have confirmed the attack on a male cast member of “Empire,” but have not released his name.
The men struck Smollett in the face and poured an unknown chemical substance on him before one of them wrapped a rope around his neck.
According to TMZ, during the attack the men screamed, “this is MAGA country.” Chicago police say this detail was not relayed to them when the attack was first reported.
Smollett was transported to Northwestern Memorial Hospital where he was treated and is in good condition.
Police said detectives are gathering security video from nearby businesses.
Statement on #ChicagoPolice hate crime investigation. We are taking these allegations very seriously and encourage anyone with information to report anonymously to https://t.co/yYAqzcVIfu pic.twitter.com/DxipALHXaz
— Anthony Guglielmi (@AJGuglielmi) January 29, 2019
Chicago police are treating the incident as a possible hate crime.
Around 10:20 p.m. Tuesday, police said detectives expanded the search area for cameras to be able to provide photos of the alleged assailants in the attack. Police spokesperson Anthony Guglielmi said so far, no video of them or a vehicle has been discovered.
He said police continue to broaden the search.
CASE UPDATE: Tonight #ChicagoPolice detectives expanded the search area for cameras to be able to provide photos of the alleged assailants in this attack. Thus far, no video of the alleged assailants or a vehicle has been discovered but we are continuing to broaden our search pic.twitter.com/glRMbAX6D0
— Anthony Guglielmi (@AJGuglielmi) January 30, 2019
Empire co-star Vivica A. Fox tweeted about the news: “I’m so angry and hurt about this. This must stop!”
I'm just now hearing the news about the senseless hate attack on my #EMPiRE Nephew @JussieSmollett IM SO ANGRY AND HURT ABOUT THIS! THIS MUST STOP!! SPREAD LOVE NOT HATE! PRAYERS UP TO U NEPHEW! 😢😢🙇🏾♀️🙇🏾♀️ pic.twitter.com/p4GqfNW3An
— Vivica A. Fox (@MsVivicaFox) January 29, 2019
20th Century Fox Statement released the following statement:
We are deeply saddened and outraged to learn that a member of our EMPIRE family, Jussie Smollett, was viciously attacked last night. We send our love to Jussie, who is resilient and strong, and we will work with law enforcement to bring these perpetrators to justice. The entire studio, network and production stands united in the face of any despicable act of violence and hate — and especially against one of our own.