A quick scan of recent headlines is enough to see that hate crimes are on the rise in this country. These crimes, which are usually based on race, gender and religion, are plaguing cities across the nation and Chicago is the latest one to fall victim. In the early hours of Tuesday morning, a member of Empire's cast was reportedly assaulted. Fortunately, Empire star Jussie Smollett is reportedly in "good" condition after a suspected hate crime.
Jussie Smollett, who plays Jamal Lyon on Fox's hit show Empire, is the victim of a "possible racially-charged assault and battery," according to the Chicago Police Department.
Smollett had just returned from New York and decided to head out to a fast food restaurant, according to a report from TMZ. Shortly after he left his home, he was allegedly approached by two white men wearing ski masks who called him racial and homophobic slurs. Although Smollett allegedly fought back, he was beaten and received a broken rib from the incident.
The men also allegedly poured an unknown chemical liquid on him and tied a rope around his neck, according to CNN. Some reports are reporting that the attackers yelled, "This is MAGA Country," the news outlet also noted.
MAGA is the acronym for Trump's campaign slogan Make American Great Again. It's also the term emblazoned on red hats that Trump supporters wear in solidarity, according to The Nation.
The actor took himself to a local hospital and was released early Tuesday morning, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
Just eight days ago, Fox Studios in Chicago allegedly received a threatening letter addressed to Smollett, according to a report from TMZ. The letter's return address said "MAGA."
Both the Smollett and his Empire character, identify as gay, according to CNN.
GLAAD reportedly reached out to Smollett offering its assistance and support, according to Deadline.
"Jussie is a true champion for LGBTQ people and is beloved by the community and allies around the world," a GLAAD spokesperson said in a statement.
The NAACP also made a statement on Twitter.
"We pray for a full physical and mental recovery @JussieSmollett and many unnamed victims of this forum of hate based terrorism," the tweet said.
His Empire family also spoke out.
"I’m deeply horrified and saddened by the racist and homophobic attacks against @JussieSmollett. He is a kind and profoundly talented soul whom I respect with all my heart. The terror of racism and homophobia has no place in our society, it is the most indecent way to live," Danny Strong, co-creator of Empire said in a tweet.
"I'm just now hearing the news about the senseless hate attack on my Empire nephew @JussieSmollett. I'm so angry and hurt about this! This must stop!! Spead love not hate! Prayers up to u nephew," fellow co-star Vivica A. Fox said in a tweet.
While the police did not release the name of the victim, 20th Century Fox confirmed it was Smollett in a prepared statement, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
"We send our love to Jussie, who is resilient and strong, and we will work with law enforcement to bring these perpetrators to justice," studio officials said in the statement. "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."
The rest of Hollywood also joined in to show their support.
The attack is being investigated as a possible hate crime, according to a statement released by the Chicago Police Department, Chicago's CBS affiliate reported.
As for what's being done now, police are reportedly currently looking at surveillance videos from an apartment building and nearby stores for leads, according to TMZ.
Unfortunately, these types of attacks are becoming more common. Hate crimes rose 17 percent from 2016 to 2017, according to the New York Times. However, hate crimes are often underreported, so the actual number may be higher.
In 2017, the Chicago Police Department reported 41 hates crimes, which were reportedly motivated by race, gender, and religion, according to the New York Times.
The Chicago Police Department did not return Romper's request for comment.
There is still a lot of investigating work to be done, but anyone with information about the incident is urged to call Area Central Detectives at 312-747-8382. Here's hoping the alleged assailants are caught. In the meantime, prayers go out to Smollett and his family.