- The Magazine
Empire star Jussie Smollett has been the victim of a suspected hate crime in Chicago, according to reports.
The actor, who came out as gay in 2015, was beaten by two men who yelled “racial and homophobic slurs” around 2 a.m., according to a Chicago Police Department statement.
The men proceeded to “batter the victim with their hands” and then poured an “unknown chemical substance” on Smollett. The men then tied a rope around Smollett’s neck before fleeing the scene.
Smollett took himself to an area hospital, where he was described as being in “good condition.”
Chicago PD is treating the attack — which they described as potentially being a “possible racially-charged assault and battery” — as a potential hate crime.
Chicago Police Department just sent out this statement re:
Jussie Smollett pic.twitter.com/DxQswZn8xd
— philip lewis (@Phil_Lewis_) January 29, 2019
Smollett was visiting the city for a concert this weekend. He reached Chicago late Monday night, and reportedly went to a Subway for food, according to TMZ.
The gossip site claims that the men who attacked Smollett screamed “This is MAGA country” while attacking Smollett, yelled “Aren’t you that faggot Empire n****r?”, and that the substance poured on Smollett was bleach — though those reports are unverified.
GLAAD released a statement after news broke about the attack, saying they had reached out to Fox and Smollett’s team to “offer assistance as well as support for him.”
They added: “Jussie is a true champion for LGBTQ people and is beloved by the community and allies around the world.”
Smollett came out publicly in 2015 during an appearance on the Ellen DeGeneres Show, telling DeGeneres that there’s “never been a closet that I’ve been in.”
He added that his decision not to disclose his sexuality up to that point wasn’t an attempt to “hide or deny who God made me. There is, without a doubt, no closet that I’ve ever been in…and I just wanted to make that clear.”
Speaking to Metro Weekly last year, Smollett gave a fiery sermon on the state of the nation in Trump’s America.
“As Americans, we give ourselves way too much credit,” he said. “We lie to ourselves about how wonderful we are, when we are not. We are great people. We are fierce, forceful, forthright, good people at our cores, but this country has not reflected that. What we have to remember is we had eight years of Obama, of feeling inspired, of feeling like somehow things were going to be okay, but during that period, we lost our ability to fight. We got comfortable, we got complacent. That’s why we’re in the situation that we’re in right now.
“Let us remember that Obama, for this country, is the anomaly,” he continued. “Trump is actually not such a huge misrepresentation of what our country in fact is. He’s what our country was built on — lies, deceit, thievery, let’s be honest…. This country is fucked up. It is. Point blank. Period. There’s no getting around it. We’ve got to clean it up.”
These are challenging times for news organizations. And yet it’s crucial we stay active and provide vital resources and information to both our local readers and the world. So won’t you please take a moment and consider supporting Metro Weekly with a membership? For as little as $5 a month, you can help ensure Metro Weekly magazine and MetroWeekly.com remain free, viable resources as we provide the best, most diverse, culturally-resonant LGBTQ coverage in both the D.C. region and around the world. Memberships come with exclusive perks and discounts, your own personal digital delivery of each week’s magazine (and an archive), access to our Member's Lounge when it launches this fall, and exclusive members-only items like Metro Weekly Membership Mugs and Tote Bags! Check out all our membership levels here and please join us today!