[CONTENT WARNING: EXPLANATION OF A HATE CRIME]
In the early hours of Tuesday morning, Empire actor Jussie Smollett was brutally attacked. According to TMZ, sources directly linked to Smollett say the actor was exiting a Subway sandwich shop at 2 A.M. when two white men accosted him, using anti-gay and racist slurs before putting his head in a noose, pouring bleach on him, and reportedly screaming, “This is MAGA country.”
The Chicago Police Department has shared with the media this statement: “The Chicago Police Department received a report of a possible racially-charged assault and battery involving a cast member of the television show Empire. Given the severity of the allegations, we are taking this investigation very seriously and treating it as a possible hate crime.”
Statement on the Attack on Jussie Smollett
January 19, 2019
I’m so tired of reading the phrase, “police are treating the attack as a POSSIBLE hate crime.” Do you want to live in a world where a Black queer person can be attacked by two masked men, have a noose placed around your neck, bleach poured on you, and have slurs yelled at you and hear authorities say, “well gosh, we’re not sure if it was motivated by hate?” Really?
Smollett was attacked in Chicago, but we are no safer at home in Sacramento. According to the California Attorney General’s 2017 report, hate crimes are up 20% in California and they know that they are being underreported? On top of that, none of the incidents referred by police to the Sacramento District Attorney’s Office were actually prosecuted and convicted on hate crime charges.
Smollett had to transport himself to the hospital after the two white men viciously attacked him. LGBTQ people walk around with this ominous fear of attack on a daily basis and LGBTQ people of color, especially Transgender women, carry that in addition to the fear of race-motivated attacks. An America that tolerates this kind of hate and inequity is not now and never was great.
–David Heitstuman, Executive Director
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