“The offenders began to batter the victim with their hands about the face and poured an unknown chemical substance on the victim,” according to Chicago Police. The attackers, allegedly two white men in ski masks, gained the victim’s attention “by yelling out racial and homophobic slurs towards him,” including, “Aren’t you that f****t Empire n****r?” and “This is MAGA country.”

“At some point during the incident,” per a police statement, “one of the offenders wrapped a rope around the victim’s neck.”

Empire actor Jussie Smollett still had a noose around his neck when police got to his apartment to speak with him after he was allegedly attacked in the Streeterville neighborhood of Chicago late Monday night. Law enforcement is investigating the attack as a hate crime.

Criminals and Hate Crimes

Further details have been scant as police are reviewing security footage from the area of the attack. Smollett checked himself in, and was released in good condition from Northwestern Memorial Hospital. CNN reports the alleged attack has been classified as a possible hate crime, with 12 police detectives and a number of FBI agents aiding the investigation.

Under Illinois criminal statutes, a person commits a hate crime if he or she “commits assault, battery, aggravated assault … misdemeanor criminal damage to property … mob action [or] disorderly conduct” based on “the actual or perceived race, color, creed, religion, ancestry, gender, sexual orientation, physical or mental disability, or national origin of another individual.” Hate crimes are Class 4 felonies in Illinois, punishable by up to three years in prison and up to $25,000 in fines. Someone convicted of a hate crime can also be charged additional restitution, can be sued by the victim in civil court, and may even need to attend “an educational program discouraging hate crimes” as part of their release or probation.

Additionally, the federal government expanded its own hate crime legislation in 2009 to include crimes motivated by a victim’s actual or perceived gender, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

As of now, Smollett’s alleged attackers remain at large and the Chicago Police Department is requesting the public to provide any tips.

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