The Chicago Police Department stated that they are treating the incident as a hate crime, with the openly gay actor receiving a letter that threatened death upon him and called him a "black f*g" shortly before the attack occurred. Danny Strong, the co-creator of Empire, has responded to the attack and offered his wishes to his recovery.
"I'm deeply horrified and saddened by the racist and homophobic attacks against @JussieSmollett," Strong wrote on Twitter. "The terror of racism and homophobia has no place in our society, it is the most indecent way to live... Whoever did this, do not forget that you are nothing hate filled cowards while Jussie talents and activism will continue to shine a bright light on the world for decades to come."
Kerry Washington, John Legend, and other celebrities also offered their prayers for Smollett.
The reported hate attack on my friend and brother, actor Jussie Smollett is despicable and outrageous. The guilty must face the maximum.— Reverend Al Sharpton (@TheRevAl) January 29, 2019
Olivia Munn wrote, "He was targeted for being black and for being gay. THIS is why we have to have zero tolerance against homophobia and racism. Jussie's life matters." Zendaya, meanwhile, hoped for justice while offering her love to Smollett.
Empire co-creator Lee Daniels responded to the assault in an emotional Instagram video:
"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 'die f**got n**ga,' or whatever they said to you," Lee said in the vide. "You are better than that. We are better than that. America is better than that [...] 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**king day in America."
California senator Kamala Harris spoke about the attacks against Smollett on the Senate floor. "It's outrageous," she said in response to hearing about the hate crime. "I know Jussie, he is one of the kindest, most gentle people I have ever met. It's awful."
Senator Cory Booker took a moment to address the incident, too, urging Congress to pass the anti-lynching bill that will designate lynching a federal hate crime.
"We are deeply saddened and outraged to learn that a member of our Empire family, Jussie Smollett, was viciously attacked last night," Fox Entertainment and 20th Century Fox Television said in a statement via Variety. "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."
GLAAD, meanwhile, stated that they had reach out to both Fox and Smollett's team to "offer assistance as well as support for him." They added, "Jussie is a true champion for LGBTQ people and is beloved by the community and allies around the world." NAACP also released a statement regarding the incident, writing, "The recent racist and homophobic attack on acclaimed actor and activist Jussie Smollett is troubling."
The two masked men who attacked Smollett reportedly shouted "this is MAGA country" before placing a noose around his neck.
"The rise in hate crimes is directly linked to President Donald J. Trump's racist and xenophobic rhetoric," NAACP continued. "It is dangerous for any society to allow a tone of divisiveness and hatred to dominate the political discourse. As this rhetoric continues to bleed into our everyday lives, dangerous behavior will continue to place many law abiding individuals at risk. We pray for a full physical and mental recovery for Jussie Smollett and many unnamed victims of this forum of hate based terrorism.