Empire’s Jussie Smollett receives wave of support after hate crime attack

The attackers shouted: ‘This is MAGA country’

An actor who is best known for his role in the music TV drama Empire has been hospitalised after a horrific attack in Chicago which is being treated as a “possible hate crime”.

Jussie Smollett, 36, was approached by two men wearing ski masks at around 2 o’clock on Tuesday morning after leaving a Subway restaurant. As he walked home he reportedly heard someone ask “Aren’t you that f*ggot Empire n*gger?” In Empire, Smollett plays a gay character and also came out as gay on Ellen in 2015.

“Two unknown offenders approached him and gained his attention by yelling out racial and homophobic slurs,” the police statement outlines. “At some point during the incident, one of the offenders wrapped a rope around the victim's neck.”

An unknown chemical substance was also poured on him during the attack, and even though there has not been an official confirmation from police, some media reports have suggested that it was bleach. A popular blog, ThatGrapeJuice, also reported that a letter may have been posted to Fox Studios in Chicago about a week before with an anonymous threat.

Smollett is said to be “in a good condition” and is recovering.

The case has shaken a lot of Americans for its parallels to lynching and reports that the men shouted: “This is MAGA country.” It’s opening up a lot of debates about the political climate, and many high profile entertainers are using their platforms to highlight homophobia and racism. See some of the responses below.