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“Empire” actor Jussie Smollett reportedly still had the noose tied around his neck when he was found after a vicious early morning attack Tuesday, allegedly committed by two men who shouted homophobic and racist slurs before beating the actor.
Smollett had been leaving a Chicago Subway restaurant around 2 a.m. when two men wearing ski masks approached him, attacked him and then poured an unknown substance on him.
They reportedly shouted “MAGA country,” a reference to President Trump’s slogan, as they left the scene.
The FBI is now assisting the Chicago Police Department in the investigation of the “possible hate crime,” according to ABC News.
Investigators have also confirmed that Smollett had received a threatening letter just shortly before the attack occurred.
The letter, which was sent to the Fox studio in Chicago on Jan. 22, contained threatening language and had a powdery substance in it. Investigators believe the substance may have been Tylenol, the news organization reports.
After receiving the threat, Smollett had apparently turned down an offer from Fox to have round the clock security, TMZ reports.
Smollett, who was later taken to the hospital to be treated for his injuries, has received an outpouring of support from celebrities, politicians and leadership behind the television show.
Lee Daniels, the creator of “Empire,” posted an emotional video on Instagram denouncing the attacks and calling Smollett his “son”
“You didn’t deserve, nor anybody deserves, to have a noose put around your neck,” he said.
He goes on to say that “America is better than that” and said embracing others' differences should begin at home.
“We have to love each other regardless of whatever sexual orientation we are because it shows that we are united on a united front. And no racist f--- can come in and do the things that they did to you,” he said.
He ends the message by telling Smollett to hold his head up.
“I’m with you, I’ll be there in a minute,” he said.
Fox, the network the airs "Empire," also released a statement saying they were deeply saddened and outraged by the incident.
"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 stands united in the face of any despicable act of violence and hate -- and especially against one of our own," they wrote.
Other celebrities also took to social media to voice their support for the actor.
“We ALL have to take this racist and homophobic act of violence very personally!,” actress Viola Davis wrote on Twitter.
Janet Jackson posted a photo of herself with Smollett and wrote “sending you my love,” in a Twitter post.
Politicians also took to social media, including Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., who called Smollett her friend.
“Jussie is my friend - a very talented & beautiful human being. It is so hurtful that homophobic haters would dare hurt someone so loving and giving,” she wrote. “I'm dedicated to finding the culprits and bringing them to justice. Jussie did not deserve to be harmed by anyone!”
California Sen. Kamala Harris, who recently announced her bid for presidency in the 2020 election, called the attack a "modern day lynching" and urged everyone to "confront this hate."
Former Vice President Joe Biden even weighed in saying on Twitter that this type of violence should no longer be tolerated in this country.
“We must stand up and demand that we no longer give this hate safe harbor; that homophobia and racism have no place on our streets or in our hearts. We are with you, Jussie,” he wrote.
[Photo: Photo by Alexander Tamargo/Getty Images]
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