The “Empire” star was treated at Northwestern Memorial Hospital and released.
The attackers were white men wearing MAGA caps, sources later told TMZ.
Two men yelled racial and homophobic slurs at the 36-year-old actor after he exited a restaurant, investigators told The Hollywood Reporter. They punched him and poured an unknown chemical over him that was believed to be bleach. One of the suspects also put a rope around his neck. They fled the scene. It’s being investigated as a possible hate crime.
“The rise in hate crimes is directly linked to President Donald J. Trump’s racist and xenophobic rhetoric,” an NAACP statement said. “It is dangerous for any society to allow a tone of divisiveness and hatred to dominate the political discourse. As this rhetoric continues to bleed into our everyday lives, dangerous behavior will continue to place many law abiding individuals at risk.”
Here’s a police statement about its investigation.
Investigators are gathering video evidence, identifying potential witnesses and establishing a timeline of the incident.
Threatening letters directed at Smollett were reportedly sent to Fox Studios in Chicago. The cutout letters said, “You will die black f**.”
In 2015, Smollett told Ellen DeGeneres that he self-identifies as gay but keeps his personal life private. “There is no closet, there’s never been a closet that I’ve been in,” he told her, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
Smollett has starred on Fox’s popular series “Empire” since 2015. He plays Jamal, a successful singer in the musical Lyon family. His TV character is gay.
He has been in the news recently for supporting Bennett College—an all-women HBCU that was on the brink of losing its accreditation.
The school—which was founded in 1873 and became a women’s institution in 1926—needs to raise $5 million by February 2019 to stay afloat. Smollett and his brother took it upon themselves to use their platforms to spread awareness about what’s happening at Bennett College and motivate individuals to pitch in and help save the school.
Smollett posted a photo of both him and his brother donning shirts that read “Stand With Bennett” accompanied with a caption that read “In the 1930s we had 121 #HBCUs now we’re at 101. Don’t let us be down to 100 if #BennettCollege, who has made the education of black women a priority since 1926, closes its doors.”
Anyone with information is asked to call Area Central Detectives at 312-747-8382.