Investigations are under way in the attack of Jussie Smollett, star of Fox’s Empire, Tuesday morning. According to authorities, this could be associated with a letter that was sent to Fox studios on January 22nd. The letter carried threating messages towards Smollett, as well as a white, powdered substance, believed to be Tylenol.
The attack on Smollett happened in downtown Chicago, while Smollett was making a trip to a nearby Subway restaurant. According to Smollett, two men attacked him. During the attack, Smollett told police the attackers were yelling “MAGA country.” According to Smollett, they beat him, then poured some sort of chemical on him, believed to be bleach, then proceeded to put a rope around his neck.
Video surveillance from the Subway shows Smollett inside, but does not show the attackers, nor do street cameras.
When police arrived, they found Smollett with the rope still on his neck. He was taken to Northwester Memorial Hospital for examination and treatment. The police have stated that this case will be seriously investigated and approached as a hate crime. FBI investigations into the threatening letter sent to Fox, are hoped to yield further evidence as to the identity of the attackers.
As part of their statement, the police department said, “Detectives are currently working to gather video, identify potential witnesses and establish an investigative timeline. The victim is fully cooperating with investigators and we ask anyone with information about this incident to contact Area Central Detectives at 312-747-8382 or report it anonymously to www.cpdtip.com.”
Members of the cast of Empire were stunned to find out about Smollett’s attack. This was further compounded when they learned of the letter that had been sent to the studio. According to Terrence Howard, Smollett’s co-star, security at Fox Studios has been increased, offering the cast, individual, round-the-clock security. “It was offered up today that we could have 24-hour security. Someone parked in front of our house during the evening, someone to drive us, or to follow us to and from work.” Howard said during a Good Morning America interview.
Howard went on to say that without Fox’s support, personal security would be costly. “It makes it hard for people not to want to think about going and just getting a license to carry a concealed weapon because it would be much cheaper, but then what does that say about our country?” Howard added.
Lee Daniels, creator of Empire, made an Instagram video to address Smollett’s attack. He decried that Smollett didn’t deserve something like this, especially having a noose put around his neck, which no one deserves. Daniels became emotional during the video, pleading for those watching to just love each other no matter who or what they are.
A statement from Fox was released addressing the apparent homophobic and racial attack against Smollett, “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.”