In a statement on Tuesday, the Chicago Police Department revealed details of a “possible racially charged” assault and battery that took place in the city early Tuesday morning. According to the report, Smollett was walking down the street when two offenders approached him and began yelling racial and homophobic slurs toward him.
The offenders then became physically violent, battering Smollett with their hands and pouring an “unknown chemical substance” on him. At some point during the attack, one of the offenders wrapped a rope around Smollett’s neck before fleeing the scene. Smollett told police that the assailants “yelled pro-‘Make America Great Again’ [MAGA] comments during the attack,” according to The Hollywood Reporter.
“Given the severity of the allegations, we are taking this investigation very seriously and treating it as a possible hate crime,” the Chicago PD’s statement reads. “Detectives are currently working to gather video, identify potential witnesses and establish an investigative timeline.”
Smollett is said to be in good condition and cooperating fully with investigators. TVLine has reached out to Fox for comment on whether production on Empire might be affected.
UPDATE: 20th Century Fox Television and Fox Entertainment have responded to the incident with the following statement: “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 stands united in the face of any despicable act of violence and hate — and especially against one of our own.”
Anyone with information about the assault is encouraged to call CPD detectives at (312) 747-8382 or report it anonymously here.
There is evidence to suggest the attack was premeditated. According to a report from That Grape Juice, Smollett had previously received a disturbing death threat in the mail, in which a drawing of him getting shot was accompanied by his name and a homophobic slur.