Attack On Empire's Jussie Smollet Being Investigated As A Hate Crime

Jussie Smollett On Empire in Season 5

Jussie Smollet, popular for his work on Empire, has been hospitalized after being attacked on his way to order food earlier this week. Police are investigating the attack as a possible hate crime.

Late on Monday the actor flew back to Chicago from New York. He was reportedly on the way to get food at a Subway at 2 a.m. 300 block of East Lower Water Street when he was brutally attacked by two men who allegedly screamed at him, poured an unconfirmed substance on him (some outlets report bleach) and then wrapped a noose around Jussie Smollet’s neck.

Jussie Smollet currently lives in Chicago while filming Fox’s hit series Empire in which he plays the openly gay character Jamal Lyon. Smollett is also openly gay in real life.

The initial police report about the incident does not mention details, but outlets including TMZ are reporting one of the suspects yelled “This is MAGA country” during the attack. The outlet also reports that attackers shouted homophobic slurs at the actor after recognizing him from Empire.

The initial police report reads as follows:

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As of Tuesday morning, Jussie Smollett had been taken to Northwestern Memorial and had been released after treatment.

Police are investigating the incident as a possible hate crime, and CPD spokesperson Anthony Guglielmi told the Chicago Tribune:

Given the severity of the allegations, we are taking this investigation very seriously and treating it as a possible hate crime. Detectives are currently working to gather video, identify potential witnesses and establish an investigative timeline.

People on staff were reportedly already on set to shoot today’s episode of Empire when the news broke. There have allegedly been talks of increasing security on set as the rest of the season unfolds. Fox has spoken out to say the studio will work with authorities and that the network is "deeply saddened and outraged" by the turn of events. Jussie Smollett's representatives have no comment at this time.

Empire is currently airing its fifth season on Fox. Jussie Smollett’s character's storyline this season has revolved around dating and subsequently becoming engaged to new partner Kai, although since it’s Empire, no relationship is ever simple.

Jussie Smollett has previously talked about the storyline in Season 5, noting that it would be different than anything else audiences have seen on network TV previously. He said:

Pay attention to Jamal's storyline this year, man, it's going to be groundbreaking. You ain't gonna see anything like it. I will say this, it's never been done on television. You've never seen two black men in this way.

We’ll keep you updated on information as this story unfolds.

Jessica Rawden
Managing Editor

Jessica Rawden is Managing Editor at CinemaBlend. She’s been kicking out news stories since 2007 and joined the full-time staff in 2014. She oversees news content, hiring and training for the site, and her areas of expertise include theme parks, rom-coms, Hallmark (particularly Christmas movie season), reality TV, celebrity interviews and primetime. She loves a good animated movie. Jessica has a Masters in Library Science degree from Indiana University, and used to be found behind a reference desk most definitely not shushing people. She now uses those skills in researching and tracking down information in very different ways.