Thousands of people have expressed their horror and disgust online, after Jussie Smollett, who is best known for his role in the American Drama Series Empire, became the victim of a horrific hate crime where he was attacked in downtown Chicago.
According to police reports, 36-year-old Smollett, was visiting the city to film the show, however, following filming, the openly gay star went for a meal at a Subway restaurant sometime after midnight, where he was soon attacked.
It’s reported that while Smollett was walking to his apartment, he was accosted in the street by two men who started shouting homophobic and racist slurs at him.
Smollett was then beaten, with injuries to his face along with an unknown substance, possibly bleach, thrown onto him. The men also put a rope around his neck before fleeing the scene.
Shaken and worried about his safety, Smollett didn’t report the attack immediately, however, his manager soon called the police at 2:42 a.m. to report the incident, and the actor was taken to hospital for treatment for lacerations on his face and neck.
The attackers were reportedly wearing ski masks and Smollet told police that they yelled “this is MAGA (make America great again) country,” a slogan popularised by U.S President Donald Trump during his election campaign.
The Chicago Police Department has since confirmed that they are treating the incident as a “possible hate crime,” with the FBI also stepping in to investigate a threatening letter received by Smollett on the 22nd of January that could be connected to the attack.
It’s since been reported that the letter states, “You will die black f*g,” and included a white powdery substance, that was later discovered to be a hoax substance and found to not be dangerous.
News of the attack has sparked outrage across the globe, with supportive messages from people of all walks of life being posted across social media condemning the attack and calling for more to be done against racism and homophobia.