Photo: Gabriel Olsen (Getty Images)
Jussie Smollett, an openly gay black actor on Fox’s Empire, was hospitalized after he was assaulted in a racist and homophobic attack early Tuesday morning in Chicago. Smollett reported that two people yelled racist and homophobic slurs at him, wrapped a rope around his neck, beat him, and poured an “unknown chemical substance” on him. He added that his attackers also shouted, “This is MAGA country.”
Chicago Tribune reported this week that, in January alone, there have been half as many homicides in the city as there were in all of 2018.
A Platform for Change
Besides being an actor and a singer, Smollett is an activist inspired by his parents, Joel and Janet, both civil rights activists. The Smolletts have been devoted to AIDS prevention and ending apartheid. Jussie is a member of the Black AIDS Institue, to which he donated a portion of his summer tour proceeds following the release of his album Sum of My Music.
Smollett works alongside advocacy groups like the Human Rights Campaign as a proud supporter of the LGBTQ community. Last year, the Empire star joined the HRC’s Equality Rocks campaign, sparking a conversation about love, fairness and equality.
Smollett received an outpouring of love on social media from Hollywood, friends, fans, and politicians. Thousands have also spoken out against the racism, homophobia, and hate ever-present in our society, with violence being emboldened in recent years. In 2017, an FBI survey revealed that hate crimes increased 17 percent, noting that hate crimes are usually underreported.
A few out of the many responses over the attack can be viewed below. If anyone from the area has any information, contact detectives at (312) 747-8382 or submit an anonymous tip at cpdtip.com.
— Empire (@EmpireFOX) January 29, 2019
We ALL have a responsibility to rise up against the ignorance and hate out there. If you know who did this to @JussieSmollett, REPORT THEM TO THE POLICE.
— shonda rhimes (@shondarhimes) January 29, 2019
Hard to focus on anything but anger. So much love for Jussie.
— Jordan Peele (@JordanPeele) January 29, 2019
THIS IS FUCKED UP TO THE CORE. CATCH THESE EVIL HOMOPHOBES AND LOCK THEM UP FOREVER https://t.co/RScjV4hlex
— Andy Cohen (@Andy) January 29, 2019
Empire writers were heartbroken this morning to hear of the vicious attack on our beloved star @JussieSmollett. The story that Jussie tells through Jamal is one of tolerance, acceptance and love, and we are disgusted that our divided world subjected such a kind soul to violence.
— Empire Writers (@EmpireWriters) January 29, 2019
.@JussieSmollett is one of the kindest, most gentle human beings I know. I’m praying for his quick recovery.
This was an attempted modern day lynching. No one should have to fear for their life because of their sexuality or color of their skin. We must confront this hate.
— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) January 29, 2019
Thinking of Jussie. Saddened. Heartbroken. Angry. ALL of it. Wouldn’t matter that he is the kindest soul. But he IS the kindest soul. And this is FUCKED. This is what all that hateful mongering has wrought. Are you PROUD???
— Barry Jenkins (@BarryJenkins) January 29, 2019
The vicious attack on actor Jussie Smollett was an attempted modern-day lynching. I’m glad he’s safe.
To those in Congress who don’t feel the urgency to pass our Anti-Lynching bill designating lynching as a federal hate crime– I urge you to pay attention. https://t.co/EwXFxl5f2m
— Cory Booker (@CoryBooker) January 29, 2019
— GLAAD (@glaad) January 29, 2019