'Empire' Actor Jussie Smollett Attacked In An Apparent Hate Crime

The fact that it’s 2019 and hate crimes are still happening is devastating to report, but “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett was brutally attacked yesterday morning. Smollett, 35, was reportedly just walking down the street (how dare he) in Chicago, when two people began to shout racist and homophobic slurs at the actor. Smollett plays a gay character on “Empire” and is openly gay in real life since coming out in an interview with Ellen DeGeneres in 2015.

The chief of Chicago police announced the attack to Twitter, where some trolls have already decided to diminish and question the truth of Smollett’s suffering.

The attackers hit him in the face, reportedly shouted, “This is MAGA country,” poured an “unknown substance” all over him (which has been suspected to be bleach) and tied a rope around his neck. After the attack, Smollett went to an apartment where his manager called the police. Considering a crime brought about by hate and ignorance could happen to a celebrity is just further indication that hate crimes are still happening to regular people every day. Hate crimes are largely underreported and of the more than 7,100 recorded incidents spurned by prejudice in 2017, about 60% were attacks on race, ethnicity and ancestry while 16% were on sexual orientation.

Since the news has broken, many fans and celebrities have offered words of support for Smollett. Lee Daniels posted a video to Instagram emphasizing that he didn’t deserve this, and that America is better than this.


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We got this @jussiesmollett ????????????????????

A post shared by Lee Daniels (@theoriginalbigdaddy) on

Cory Booker called the incident a “modern day lynching” on Twitter and pointed to an anti-lynching bill he worked on that you’d think would have been passed in like…1892 but whatever okay we’re just getting to it now. It’s also important to remember here that both of Smollett’s parents, Janet and Joel Smollett Jr., were Civil Rights activists.

2020 candidate Kamala Harris also came out in support of Smollett, similarly calling the attack against Smollett a “modern day lynching,” as did fellow 2020 hopeful Kirsten Gillibrand.

President Trump has yet to comment on the attacks, because he was too busy tweeting stuff like this:

In the celebrity world, many have come out in support of Smollett including comedian Kevin Hart, whose support is being criticized online in light of his recent homophobic tweets controversy.

While Hart is probably being genuine in his support of Smollett, attacks like this are an upsetting reminder that ignorant people are always listening, and if it seems ok for celebrities to use violence against the LGBT community for jokes online, others might see that as a green light to enact said violence in real life.

If you are the victim of a hate crime or want to help those who are VictimConnect, the Human Rights Campaign, and Hate Crime Help are available to help.

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Betcher In The Rye
Betcher In The Rye
Kimberly Dinaro is a writer, stand up comedian and teen pop star in NYC. Less online dating, more inline skating.