The attackers shouted: ‘This is MAGA country’
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.
Disgusted by the ugly prejudice and bigotry behind this violence. Sending love to @JussieSmollett & to anyone that has been hurt by the hatred of those who fear difference. As a society, we continue to fail LGBTQIA+ communities and PoC. pic.twitter.com/FFRPIbhOip— Emma Watson (@EmmaWatson) January 30, 2019
Let us call "a thing" a "thing"! A noose around the neck is for lynching. Bleach turns black to white. Whether or not it was MAGA, it was violent and racist and homophobic- - - PERIOD! Lift Jussie in prayer and find the racist homophobes -PERIOD!— Iyanla Vanzant (@IyanlaVanzant) January 30, 2019
I understand the urge in the wake of the Jussie Smollett news to talk about how the story affects you & how you share an identity, like your queerness, with him. I have the urge to talk about what separates us, and how this specific incident would not have happened to me.— 𝔥𝔦𝔰𝔭𝔞𝔫𝔦𝔠 𝔭𝔦𝔵𝔦𝔢 𝔡𝔯𝔢𝔞𝔪 𝔤𝔦𝔯𝔩 (@mathewrodriguez) January 30, 2019
Hi, fellow queer white folks. What happened to Jussie Smollett is horrible. But if you're only focusing on the ways in which you too could have been a victim of a hate crime without also looking at the way whiteness also protects us from what Jussie suffered....decenter yourself.— Olivia A. Cole (@RantingOwl) January 30, 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
Jussie Smollett was violently attacked by two white men who poured bleach on him and put a noose around his neck. He was targeted for being black and for being gay. THIS is why we have to have zero tolerance against homophobia and racism. Jussie’s life matters.— Olivia Munn (@oliviamunn) January 29, 2019
Blackness & Queerness are treated like water & oil by Black cishet ppl AND white queer ppl. So many of us fall in between the cracks of society because of this. Therefore it’s imperative Black cishet men especially stand in solidarity with us, if they claim to be for Black lives.— Thiccster (@dezzaxx_) January 29, 2019
Anyone trying to ignore the fact that Jussie Smollett is BOTH Black & gay need to sit down.— Ernest Owens (@MrErnestOwens) January 29, 2019
This was a racially-motivated homophobic attack.
They called him racial slurs AND homophobic ones.
He carries BOTH identities and white supremacists made it a point to target both.