Two attackers left Jussie Smollett’s face bruised and cut after they heckled him with slurs, battered him and poured an ‘unknown chemical substance’ on the ‘Empire’ actor.
UPDATE (3/26/19), 11:35 AM EST: The charges against Empire actor Jussie Smollett — over allegedly staging a racial attack against himself in Chicago on January 29 — have all been dropped, his Chicago-based attorney Ronald Safer confirms to HollywoodLife EXCLUSIVELY. Fox Entertainment and 20th Century Fox Television issued the following statement (on March 26, 2019 at 1:15 PM EST) in wake of this development: “Jussie Smollett has always maintained his innocence and we are gratified that all charges against him have been dismissed.”
ORIGINAL: Jussie Smollett, 35, was hospitalized at Northwestern Hospital after a horrifying attack on Jan. 29 that Chicago authorities are investigating as a possible hate crime. “Two unknown offenders approached him and gained his attention by yelling out racial and homophobic slurs towards him,” the Chicago Police Department told HollywoodLife in a statement. The public has been given its first look at the resulting injuries, as a photo of Jussie in his hospital bed was screengrabbed in a FaceTime call between the Empire actor and the show’s co-creator, Lee Daniels. Jussie’s face appears swollen and now bears a cut under his right eye, as seen in the second photo of the slideshow below. Not pictured is the fractured rib he also sustained, according to TMZ.
Leading up to the injuries, Jussie was walking outside a Subway shop on early Monday morning, as he had just returned on a delayed flight from New York. That’s when “two unknown offenders approached him and gained his attention by yelling out racial and homophobic slurs towards him,” the Chicago Police Department said in its statement. They began to “batter” Jussie’s face, “poured an unknown chemical substance” on him, “wrapped a rope” around his neck and then fled. Empire’s co-creator claimed that the “chemical substance” was bleach. Jussie took himself to the hospital afterwards, and authorities reported he’s in “good condition,” despite the photo below.
TMZ added more details to the cops’ report. According to the outlet’s sources “directly connected to Jussie,” the two assailants were reportedly white and wearing ski masks, and in addition to allegedly calling out slurs, they also allegedly yelled, “This is MAGA country.” The sources added that eight days prior to the attack, Chicago’s Fox Studios (which airs Empire) received a ransom letter that read, “You will die black f**,” with Jussie’s full name on the envelope — ThatGrapeJuice.Net obtained the pictures. Jussie is celebrated as a champion in the LGBTQ community, as he came out on Ellen Degeneres’ show in 2015.
Empire’s co-creator also took to his Instagram to share an emotional message after the brutal attack. “It’s taken me a minute to come to social media about this because Jussie, you are my son,” Lee began in the video above. “You didn’t deserve — nor does anybody deserve — to have a noose put around your neck, to have bleach thrown on you.” You can listen to his full message above.
Like Lee, many celebrities, co-stars and even politicians took to their social media accounts to voice their outrage and heartbreak. From actress Kerry Washington to Republican political commentator Ana Navarro, many reacted to this ugly act of cruelty — you can read their responses, here.