Empire actor Jussie Smollett has been transported to hospital after he was the victim of an apparent hate crime in Chicago.
TMZ first reported the news. The Chicago Police Department confirmed in a statement that a member of the hit Fox show was involved in a “racially-charged assault and battery,” though they did not name Smollett.
The statement continues: “A 36-year-old man was walking…when two unknown offenders approached him and gained his attention by yelling out racial and homophobic slurs towards him. The offenders began to batter the victim with their hands about the face and poured an unknown chemical substance on the victim. At some point during the incident, one of the offenders wrapped a rope around the victim’s neck. The offenders fled the scene.”
The statement adds that the victim was transported to Northwestern Hospital and is in “good condition.”
A Chicago PD spokesperson told People that no arrests had been made and there were no solid suspects. The officer says the attackers were wearing masks but will not confirm what they said, only that it was racially charged and homophobic. The victim thinks the liquid thrown on him was bleach, but detectives have yet to confirm that. He was by himself at the time of the attack.
20th Century Fox Television and Fox Entertainment released a statement: “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 or any despicable act of violence and hatred — and especially against one of our own.”
Smollett first spoke publicly about being gay on The Ellen DeGeneres Show in 2015, though he said he never considered himself to be in the closet.
“There’s never been a closet that I’ve been in,” he said, adding that deciding not to talk about his personal life is not an attempt to “hide or deny who God made me. There is, without a doubt, no closet that I’ve ever been in,” he reiterated, “and I just wanted to make that clear.”
Twitter flooded with messages of support for Jussie, including fellow Hollywood celebrities inlcuding