Empire co-creator Lee Daniels is rushing to his “son” Jussie Smollett’s side after condemning the people behind the actor’s savage beating.
Smollett, who plays an openly-gay musician in the drama series, was hospitalized after two white men targeted him near his apartment in Chicago, Illinois in the early hours of Tuesday (29Jan19).
Police are investigating the assault as a “possible hate crime” as the suspects allegedly recognized the actor from his work and called him out, shouting, “Aren’t you that f**got Empire n**ger?”
The men, who wore black ski masks, are accused of brutally beating the 35 year old and pouring an unknown chemical substance over him – which some outlets have reported as bleach – before using a rope as a noose around his neck.
The details of the shocking incident have horrified Jussie’s celebrity friends and fans, and hours after the news broke, Daniels took to Instagram to break his silence over the apparent hate crime.
“It’s taken me a minute to come to social media about this because, Jussie, you are my son,” he began. “You didn’t deserve, nor anybody deserves, to have a noose put around your neck, to have bleach thrown on you, to be called ‘f**got n**ger’ or whatever they said to you. You are better than that. We are better than that. America is better than that.”
Daniels went on to insist understanding of different races, cultures, and sexualities all “starts at home”.
“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,” he continued.
“Hold your head up, Jussie. I’m with you. I’ll be there in a minute,” he added, before remarking, “It’s just another f**king day in America.”
Daniels has since shared the first image of Smollett following the beating, after FaceTiming with his friend and colleague as he recovers from his injuries, which include a fractured rib.
The photo shows Jussie, who is gay in real life, with swelling and a cut beneath his right eye.
Empire co-creator Danny Strong and producer Eric Haywood have also expressed their disgust over the attack on social media, while further well wishes and prayers have poured in from stars like Janet Jackson and Viola Davis.
“OMG (oh my God)!! THIS is why the LGBTQ community continue to fight to be seen and PROTECTED against hate!,” Davis wrote. “We ALL have to take this racist and homophobic act of violence very personally! My arms are around you @jussiesmollett. You are loved!”
Smollett’s TV aunt Vivica A. Fox also took to Twitter, writing: “I’m just now hearing the news about the senseless hate attack on my #EMPiRE Nephew @JussieSmollett IM SO ANGRY AND HURT ABOUT THIS! THIS MUST STOP!! SPREAD LOVE NOT HATE! PRAYERS UP TO U NEPHEW (sic)!”
John Legend, Zendaya, Kerry Washington, and Shonda Rhimes have all reached out to Smollett online, voicing their love and support for the actor.
Police have yet to identify the suspects or make any arrests.
– Cover Media0