Chicago police say they are investigating a possible hate crime against Empire star Jussie Smollett early Tuesday.
Smollett reported that he was approached by two men as he was walking down a Chicago street. The men allegedly began yelling racial and homophobic slurs at him and beat Smollett’s face with their hands, according to the Chicago Police Department.
Police said Smollett told them that the attackers poured an “unknown chemical substance” on him and wrapped a rope around his neck.
The two attackers then fled the scene and Smollett took himself to Northwestern Hospital. He is in “good” condition,” police said.
Smollett, an openly gay actor, is best known for his starring role on the FOX hit Empire, where he plays the role of Jamal Lyon. His character on the show is also gay.
Police said they are taking the allegations very seriously as they continue their hate crime investigation.
20th Century Fox said the studio was “saddened and outraged” to learn of the alleged attack.
“We are deeply saddened and outraged to learn that a member of our EMPIRE family, Jussie Smollett, was viciously attacked last night,” the statement said. “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.”
Celebrities are weighing in on the incident. Empire co-star Vivica A. Fox tweeted she is angry and hurt over the attack and said “THIS MUST STOP!! SPREAD LOVE NOT HATE!”
Actress Zendaya tweeted that the attack is “heartbreaking and terrifying.”
Television producer Shonda Rhimes asked if anyone knew who was responsible for the attack to report them to the police.
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