Empire star Jussie Smollett is in the hospital after two people allegedly assaulted him on the streets of Chicago around 2:00 a.m. last night.
The police are investigating the attack as a hate crime, since the perpetrators reportedly made racist and homophobic slurs. Smollett is a gay black man.
Several media outlets referenced claims that appeared in TMZ's coverage of this matter, most notably that the perpetrators were white and yelled "this is MAGA country," as they attacked Smollett. But a spokesperson for the Chicago police denied having any information about the race and political views of the attackers.*
"According to the victim, the offenders' faces were concealed," a police spokesperson told Reason. "We have no record indicating that [they shouted 'MAGA'], we only have record of them shouting racial and homophobic slurs at him."
Chicago police have also released a statement contradicting claims that Smollett identified his attackers' race and heard them shout "MAGA."
"We have no record of The MAGA Country comment," said the police in a statement. "We have racial and homophobic comments documented."
Until we know more, it would be wise to avoid making any sweeping generalizations about who to blame for this. The best course of action right now is to wish Smollett a speedy recovery and wait for better information.
Updated at 7:30 p.m.: Chicago PD now tell me via email that "in the initial reports there was no mention of MAGA," but "when detectives follow[ed] up with him later in the day, he recalled the offender[s] making those comments and detectives completed a supplemental report." It would appear that earlier statements by the police were erroneous. I have changed the headline of this article to reflect new information, and await a statement from Smollett himself.
Here are screenshots of the police statements. First:
Photo Credit: JM11/Joseph Marzullo/WENN/Newscom