The entertainment industry is responding to Jussie Smollett being assaulted and attacked by a group of homophobic men in Chicago.
Ahead of his performance on Saturday, Smollett posted that he was in Chicago. He posted on Instagram on Monday, announcing his arrival in the city “after spending 7 hours on a plane for a 2-hour flight.” Smollett’s breakout role was as Jamal Lyon on Empire. The character came out during the show’s first season, and Smollett himself came out during an interview with Ellen in 2015.
TMZ reported that the actor stepped out to get food at about 2 AM on Tuesday when he was assaulted. According to CNN, the police were able to get footage from a security camera of the incident, but it showed Smollett standing alone outside a Subway sandwich shop. The actual assault was not recorded. However, Smollett told CNN that he fought back. Detectives are gathering security footage from nearby businesses.
The Chicago police are currently investigating the two men involved in a racial and homophobic attack on the 36-year-old Empire actor. A police spokesman said that Smollett revealed that two men first started shouting homophobic and racial slurs at him, after which they struck him in the face and poured a chemical on him before wrapping a rope around his neck.
TMZ reported that the men shouted “This is MAGA country” at Smollett as well. MAGA stands for Make America Great Again, which is Donald Trump’s election campaign slogan. Smollett went to Northwestern Memorial Hospital. The police said he was in good condition.
Reps for 20th Century Fox said, “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 stand united in the face of any despicable act of violence and hate — and especially against one of our own.”
GLAAD also released a statement saying, “GLAAD reached out to Fox and Jussie’s team today to offer assistance as well as support for him. Jussie is a true champion for LGBTQ people and is beloved by the community and allies around the world.”
Empire executive producer Brian Grazer said, “I am disgusted and saddened by the attack on Jussie, one of the nicest and most genuine people I have worked with. I send him much love on his recovery. Hate and bigotry have no place in our society.”
A number of celebrities have also taken to social media to show support for Smollett.
The actor has not yet released a statement regarding his attack.
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