17:36 GMT10 July 2020
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    In the early morning hours of Tuesday, US actor Jussie Smollett was attacked by two people in Chicago, Illinois, in what law enforcement are treating as a potential hate crime.

    Smollett, who stars as Jamal Lyon on Fox's "Empire," was hospitalized after being attacked by two unidentified people around 2 a.m. Tuesday while exiting a Subway sandwich shop. 

    According to Smollet, who spoke to CNN's Don Lemon Tuesday, the two perpetrators, who were wearing ski masks, yelled, "Aren't you that f****t 'Empire' n*****?" before attacking him, placing a rope around his neck and pouring an unknown chemical substance on him.

    They also yelled, "This is MAGA country," before walking away from the scene of the crime. MAGA is shorthand for US President Donald Trump's campaign slogan, "Make America great again."

    Smollett, who is openly gay, was discharged from Chicago's Northwestern Memorial hospital Tuesday morning. He transported himself to the hospital after being attacked.

    In a statement released Tuesday, the Chicago Police Department said, "Given the severity of the allegations, we are taking this investigation very seriously and treating it as a possible hate crime."

    The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) also released a statement calling Smollett a "true champion for LGBTQ people."

    "GLAAD reached out to FOX and Jussie's team today to offer assistance as well as support for him," GLAAD said in a statement Tuesday. "Jussie is a true champion for LGBTQ people and is beloved by the community and allies around the world." 

    "Empire" production company 20th Century Fox also issued a statement Tuesday saying that it will "work with law enforcement to bring these perpetrators to justice."

    "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," the statement added.

    Chicago police detectives are currently obtaining surveillance video and talking to potential witnesses.

    The Chicago Police Department did not immediately respond to Sputnik's request for comment.


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