Police are investigating the assault and battery, which occurred early Tuesday morning.
Empire star Jussie Smollett was assaulted early Tuesday morning in Chicago, in an attack that may have been motivated by racism and homophobia.
In a statement released by the Chicago PD to the Hollywood Reporter and the Huffington Post, police said they are investigating the incident as a battery and a possible hate crime.
According to the statement, Smollett was ambushed outside of a Chicago restaurant by two unidentified suspects who approached him yelling homophobic and racist slurs. The suspects physically assaulted Smollett, poured an unknown chemical substance on him, and wrapped a rope around his neck before departing the scene. Smollett was briefly hospitalized after the incident and has since been released.
Chicago Police Department just sent out this statement re:
Jussie Smollett pic.twitter.com/DxQswZn8xd
— philip lewis (@Phil_Lewis_) January 29, 2019
Police also said that Smollett is fully cooperating with the investigation, and that they are “currently working to gather video, identify potential witnesses and establish an investigative timeline.” The suspects have not yet been identified or apprehended.
TMZ was the first to report the news of Smollett’s attack, alleging several more unconfirmed details of the attack.
Smollett, who is openly gay, also plays a queer character on Empire, Jamal Lyon.
The queer rights group GLAAD said it has contacted Smollett to offer its assistance, noting to the Hollywood Reporter that “Jussie is a true champion for LGBTQ people and is beloved by the community and allies around the world.”
Empire co-creator Danny Strong condemned the attack and tweeted his support of Smollett.
…whoever did this, do not forget that you are nothing but hate filled cowards while Jussie’s talent and activism will continue to shine a bright light on to the world for decades to come.
— Danny Strong (@Dannystrong) January 29, 2019
A statement from Fox provided to THR included staunch support of Smollett and a vow to see justice done: “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 of any despicable act of violence and hate — and especially against one of our own.”
No further details on the attack or the suspects were available.