CBS News confirmed with Chicago police that the two masked attackers cited President Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan after physically attacking the actor. Chicago police released a statement Tuesday, describing the attack as a “possible racially-charged assault and battery.”
“In the initial reports there was no mention of MAGA,” a police statement provided to People reads. “When detectives [followed] up with him later in the day, he recalled the offenders making those comments and detectives completed a supplemental report.”
Smollett, a gay actor who plays the character Jamal Lyon on Fox’s “Empire,” was admitted to Northwestern Memorial Hospital after the assault. Police report he is in “good condition.”
“The alleged assailants made racially charged comments to the victim implying that they knew he was a star from the show,” police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi told the Chicago Sun Times.
Police told HuffPost that two unknown men began “yelling out racial and homophobic slurs” before physically attacking the actor. During the attack, the two men “poured an unknown chemical substance,” possibly bleach, on him and one of the attackers wrapped a rope around his neck. Police and FBI are currently investigating the attack as a “possible hate crime.”
The FBI has taken over the investigation in the wake of news that Smollett has received a threatening letter prior to the attack.
“Given the severity of the allegations, we are taking this investigation very seriously and treating it as a possible hate crime,” Chicago police said in a Tuesday statement. “Detectives are currently working to gather video, identify potential witnesses and establish an investigative timeline.”