Jussie Smollett, actor in the Fox television show “Empire”, was the victim of a possible racially-charged assault and battery early Tuesday morning in Chicago’s Streeterville neighborhood.
The incident took place in the area of 300 E. North Water St. between 1 a.m. to 3 a.m., according to the Chicago Police Department press release.
Two unidentified people yelled racial and homophobic slurs as they wrapped a rope around his neck and poured an “unknown chemical substance” on the victim. Smollett told police that the suspects yelled, “MAGA country” during the time of the attack. The offenders fled the scene and no description is currently available.
The 36-year-old black actor came out publicly to Ellen Degeneres’s in 2015. He explained his desire to keep his personal life private.
“It is in no way to hide or deny how God made me. My mama knows. My mama likes me a lot,” Smollett said as he giggled.
Chicago Police Chief Communications Officer Anthony Guglielmi released a statement via verified twitter account.
“Given the severity of the allegations, we are taking this investigation very seriously and treating it as a possible hate crime,” Guglielmi said.
Actress Viola Davis tweeted, “OMG!! THIS is why the LGBTQ community continue to fight to be seen and PROTECTED against hate! We ALL have to take this racist and homophobic act of violence very personally! My arms are around you @jussiesmollett. You are loved!”
According to the press release, detectives are currently working on gathering evidence including video to establish a timeline and identify witnesses. According to ABC News, the Federal Bureau of Investigations is now assisting in the case as result of an earlier threat made via a letter.
Anyone with information can contact Area Central Detectives at 312-747-8382 or give an anonymous tip at www.cpdtip.com.