A black-Jewish actor has been hospitalised after a disturbing attack – described by police as a possible hate crime – by two men who "yelled out racial and homophobic slurs".
Chicago Police said Jussie Smollett, one of the stars of US drama Empire, was attacked while walking in the city’s downtown area in the early hours of Tuesday morning.
A police spokesman said he was struck in the face and was doused in an “unknown chemical substance”, before one of the men wrapped a rope around his neck.
Disgusted by the ugly prejudice and bigotry behind this violence. Sending love to @JussieSmollett & to anyone that has been hurt by the hatred of those who fear difference. As a society, we continue to fail LGBTQIA+ communities and PoC. pic.twitter.com/FFRPIbhOip— Emma Watson (@EmmaWatson) January 30, 2019
The celebrity news website TMZ reported that the two men shouted “This is Maga country” during the assault.
“Maga” is an acronym for “Make America Great Again”, Donald Trump’s election campaign slogan in 2016.
Smollett, 36, was born to an African-American mother and a Jewish father.
The Anti-Defamation League condemned the “alleged homophobic and racist assault”, calling for officers to “work swiftly to bring the alleged perpetrators to justice”.
In the wake of Tuesday’s attack, a number of celebrities offered support to Smollett via social media.
Musician John Legend wrote: “Sending love to Jussie and the Smollett family after this horrific attack. We support you and pray that you find peace and justice.”
Singer and actress Janelle Monae added: “It is still a risk daily to be a BLACK, OUT, and PROUD human being. I am sending so much love to you Jussie. Praying for your healing”