Democratic Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey said the attack against Empire actor Jussie Smollett was an attempt at “modern-day lynching.” Booker asked Congress to pass an Anti-Lynching bill, which would make lynching a federal hate crime. Both Smollett and his character from Empire identify as gay.
“The vicious attack on actor Jussie Smollett was an attempted modern-day lynching. I’m glad he’s safe,” Booker said. “To those in Congress who don’t feel the urgency to pass our Anti-Lynching bill designating lynching as a federal hate crime– I urge you to pay attention.”
Two men in ski masks reportedly attacked Smollett at 2 a.m. in Chicago on Tuesday. They were “yelling out racial and homophobic slurs” and “poured an unknown chemical substance on the victim” police said. The incident is being investigated as a possible hate crime.
Smollett, who was treated at Northwestern Memorial, told CNN that he tried to fight back against the attackers. He was “angry” that an attack of this caliber happened. He was discharged later in the day on Tuesday, TMZ reported.
Fox Entertainment and 20th Century Fox Television issued a statement after they learned about the attack. Smollett has worked on the Fox series since 2016 where he plays Jamal, a popular singer from the prominent Lyon family.
“We are deeply saddened and outraged to learn that a member of our Empire family, Jussie Smollett, was viciously attacked last night,” a statement said. “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.”
Smollett received support from stars like Empire creator Lee Daniels, who was horrified by the attack.
Days before the incident, Smollett was reportedly sent a package to Fox Studios in Chicago. According to a photo posted by TMZ, it had cut out letters that spelled, “You will die black f**.”
There are rumors that Smollett was attacked by MAGA (Make America Great Again) supporters, though police have not confirmed it.