On Tuesday morning, Empire actor Jussie Smollett was attacked in Chicago in what Chicago police have called a "possible hate crime." Following reports about the attack, support for Smollett on Twitter, including in "Justice for Jussie" tweets, has been overwhelming, with many drawing attention to the high levels of violence that black and LGBTQ Americans face.
"The vicious, racist and homophobic attack against @JussieSmollett is a reminder of the real violence Black LGBTQ ppl face everyday & the hate this administration continues to embolden," the activist group Color of Change tweeted. "Our support + love go out to #JussieSmollet [sic] as he continues to recover."
In a tweet, Sen. Kamala Harris said that Smollett is "one of the kindest, most gentle human beings I know" and called the assault an "attempted modern day lynching."
"No one should have to fear for their life because of their sexuality or color of their skin," Harris wrote on Twitter. "We must confront this hate.
According to a Chicago Police Department statement, two assailants approached Smollett, beat him, tied a rope around his neck, poured an "unknown chemical" on him and was "yelling out racial and homophobic slurs." Chicago police said in the statement that they are "treating [the attack] as a possible hate crime" and is seeking evidence in the investigation. But Andrew Guglielmit, the department's chief communications officer, wrote on Twitter that "thus far we have not found anything to be able put out a description" of the assailants.
In its 2017 hate crimes statistics report, the FBI found that 28 percent of hate crime incidents targeted black people, while around 15 percent targeted LGBTQ people.
Because of the nature of the reported slurs targeting both his race and his sexual orientation, Smollett would be considered the victim of a "multi-bias" hate crime incident. There were 69 such hate crimes in 2017, according to FBI data.
"Jussie Smollett was targeted because of his race and sexuality," comedian Gabe Gonzales tweeted. "This is why mere visibility isn't enough. Combatting homophobia and racism must involve calling out and holding accountable people in power or groups who seek to normalize hate like this."
"The racist and homophobic attack on Jussie Smollett is a horrific instance of the surging hostility toward minorities around the country," Sen. Bernie Sanders wrote in a tweet. "We must come together to eradicate all forms of bigotry and violence."
The NAACP released a statement in which it denounced the attack and said that President Trump shares blame for the recent rise in hate crimes.
“The recent racist and homophobic attack on acclaimed actor and activist Jussie Smollett is troubling," NAACP president Derrick Johnson wrote. "The rise in hate crimes is directly linked to President Donald J. Trump’s racist and xenophobic rhetoric. 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."
According to the FBI, there was a 17 percent increase in hate crimes between 2016 and 2017.
Police said that Smollett took himself to the hospital after the attack. On Tuesday evening, ABC News reported that the FBI is involved in the investigation after Chicago police confirmed to the outlet that a threat that was made against Smollett prior to the attack.