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FBI to investigate ‘racist and homophobic’ Jussie Smollett attack

Nick Duffy January 30, 2019
Jussie Smollett attends Espolòn Celebrates Day of the Dead at Academy Nightclub on November 1, 2018 in Hollywood, California.

Jussie Smollett attends Espolòn Celebrates Day of the Dead at Academy Nightclub on November 1, 2018 in Hollywood, California. (Tasia Wells/Getty for Espolòn)

The FBI will help investigate an attack on Empire star Jussie Smollett.

The federal government agency—which has powers to intervene in serious crime investigations including hate crimes—will probe the attack, which took place in the early hours of Tuesday (January 29) in Chicago.

Out TV star Smollett, who plays a high-profile gay character on Fox show Empire, was hospitalised after the violent incident, in which he was reportedly branded a “faggot Empire n****r” and had a noose tied around his neck by two men.

FBI to assist police probe into Jussie Smollett attack

Chicago Police confirmed to ABC News that the FBI is assisting in the investigation of the brutal attack.

ThatGrapeJuice, the first outlet to report the attack, alleged that a threatening letter was sent to Smollett days before the attack that reads: “You will die black fag.”

The envelope featured the acronym ‘MAGA,’ which stands for the pro-Trump slogan “Make America Great Again.”

In a previous statement, Chicago Police said: “Two unknown offenders approached him and gained his attention by yelling out racial and homophobic slurs towards him.

“The offenders began to batter the victim with their hands about the face and poured an unknown chemical substance on the victim.

“At some point during the incident, one of the offenders wrapped a rope around the victim’s neck. The offenders fled the scene.”

Jussie Smollett attack: Singer performs onstage at Espolòn Celebrates Day of the Dead at Academy Nightclub on November 1, 2018 in Hollywood, California.
Jussie Smollett attack: Singer performs onstage at Espolòn Celebrates Day of the Dead at Academy Nightclub on November 1, 2018 in Hollywood, California. (Tasia Wells/Getty Images for Espolòn )

Chicago Police added: “Detectives are currently working to gather video, identify potential witnesses and establish an investigative timeline.

“The victim is fully cooperating with investigators and we ask anyone with information about this incident to contact Area Central Detectives at 312-747-8382 or report it anonymously to www.cpdtip.com.”

No video of the attack has yet been found, and no arrests have been made.

Empire co-stars send support after Jussie Smollett attack

Smollett is yet to speak publicly about the incident, but many of his Empire colleagues have sent messages of support.

In an emotional video posted to Instagram, Empire co-creator Lee Daniels said: “It’s taken me a minute to come to social media about this because, Jussie, you are my son.

“You didn’t deserve nor anybody deserves to have a noose put around your neck, to have bleach thrown on you, to be called ‘faggot n****r’ or whatever they said to you.

“You are better than that. We are better than that. America is better than that. It starts at home.”

Daniels added: “We have to love each other regardless of what sexual orientation we are because it shows we are united on a united front and no racist f**k can come in and do the things that they did to you.

“Hold your head up, Jussie. I’m with you. I’ll be there in a minute. It’s just another f***ing day in America.”

A statement on behalf of the entire Empire production adds: “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 shared united in the face of any despicable act of violence and hate, and especially against one of our own.”

More: attack, Chicago, Crime, Empire, FBI, Gay, Jussie Smollett, Law, LGBT, US

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