Jussie Smollett reportedly received a threatening and homophobic letter before his brutal ambush in Chicago and allegedly turned down extra security days before the attack, reported TMZ.
The star of Empire received a letter that was sent to the Fox Studios offices in Chicago, per TMZ, and that security for the cast was increased when the missive, which was reported by the news outlet to be “threatening and homophobic,” appeared.
TMZ alleges that Smollett refused extra security that would have been provided by Fox Studios when he was not at the studio. It is alleged that he did not want his day-to-day life to be altered by having to be tailed by a security detail.
Shortly before the attack, Smollett posted a photo and caption to Instagram where he stated he was happy to land in Chicago after spending “seven hours on a plane for a two-hour flight.” He also used the hashtag, “Chicago weather ain’t no joke.” Smollett was attacked by two men upon returning to Chicago after a trip to New York City. TMZ reported the actor was headed to a local Subway sandwich shop for food around two in the morning when the ambush occurred.
The New York Times reported Smollett was walking when two men began yelling racial and homophobic slurs at him, hit the actor in the face, and poured what the outlet called an “unknown chemical substance” on him. The attackers also wrapped a rope around the actor’s neck before they left the scene.
UPDATE: We continue to seek any available evidence/video to identify possible offenders in this case. Anyone who may hv been in area of 300 E North Water St btwn 1-3a should send info to https://t.co/g9Q1Srtgmc. Thus far we have not found anything to be able put out a description pic.twitter.com/wxdA0OOjZz— Anthony Guglielmi (@AJGuglielmi) January 29, 2019
The New York Times reported that both 20th Century Fox Television and Fox Entertainment released a statement on Tuesday about the attack. The statement read that the “entire studio, network, and production stand united in the face of any despicable act of violence and hate.”
“Given the severity of the allegations, we are taking this investigation very seriously and treating it as a possible hate crime,” said a police spokesperson quoted by the New York Times.
The police questioned Smollett after the attack and he revealed while he was brutalized, the attackers shouted, “This is MAGA country.”
MAGA is an acronym for Donald Trump’s campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again.” It is a brand that he used throughout his 2016 presidential campaign. This is the second time a MAGA hat was worn in several weeks in what appeared to be racist incidents.
In January, a young man from Covington Catholic High School in Park Hills, Kentucky wore a MAGA hat and stood face-to-face with a native elder who was beating a drum during the Indigenous Peoples March held in Washington, DC reported Vox. Several of his fellow students were also seen making fun of the marchers, with some appearing to shout “Build that wall, build that wall.”
Smollett is reportedly eager to get back to work on Empire, reported TMZ. The publication also reported that the FBI is investigating to see if the letter Smollett received and the attack are connected.