(JTA) – Black Jewish actor Jussie Smollett, best known for his work on the show “Empire,” was hospitalized in Chicago on Tuesday, Jan. 29, following an assault that is being described by police as a possible hate crime. Smollett was exiting a restaurant when two men approached him. The Chicago Police Department reported they “gained his attention by yelling out racial and homophobic slurs towards him.” They then proceeded to attack Smollet, pouring an “unknown chemical substance” on him and wrapping a rope around his neck.
Smollett was born to a Jewish father and African-American mother. He portrays a gay musician on “Empire” named Jamal Lyon. In 2015, Smollett came out as gay, telling Ellen DeGeneres, “I choose not to talk about my personal life. But there is, without a doubt, no closet that I’ve ever been in.”
Many users expressed their outrage at the attack on social media.
“This reported attack on Jussie is a disturbing reminder of the terrible homophobia and racism that plagues our society,” Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said in a statement. “We call on police to investigate this vile incident as a hate crime and work swiftly to bring the alleged perpetrators to justice.”