Taraji P. Henson has said “hate will not win” after her Empire co-star Jussie Smollett was attacked in what police suspect was a hate crime.
The 35-year-old actor, who is black and came out as gay in 2015, was approached by two men in downtown Chicago at about 2am on Tuesday, police said.
He was struck in the face before having an “unknown chemical substance” poured over him and a rope wrapped around his neck, according to investigators.
The suspects shouted racial and homophobic slurs during the attack, police said. No arrests have been made.
The Hollywood star, who plays Smollett’s mother on the TV show, shared a clip from one of his music videos on Instagram and wrote: “I wish what happened to my baby was just one big bad joke but it wasn’t and we all feel his pain right now.
“@jussiesmollett is pure love to the bone AND THAT IS WHY SO MANY ARE FEELING HIS PAIN BECAUSE IT IS OUR PAIN!!!
“I tell you one thing HATE WILL NOT WIN!!!! My baby is resilient and love still lives in him.
“The devil and his minions are very busy right now but one thing is for sure and two things are for certain #GODIS and that is all I know.”
Police also confirmed Smollett told them his attackers made reference to MAGA – Make America Great Again – which was Donald Trump’s slogan during the 2016 US presidential campaign.
Smollett has starred in Fox’s musical drama Empire since 2015. He plays Jamal, the gay son of a music mogul, played by Terence Howard.
Howard told Good Morning America: “Our jaws dropped to the ground and when we learned that there had been letters that had been sent to Fox as threats about the potential of something like this, then we became much more frightened.”
He added: “He’s angry, but I known Jussie, his anger will dissipate and he will forgive these people for what they did. But he won’t – we cannot – forget their actions.
“They have to be forgiven because it was done out of ignorance.”
Other stars have also rallied around Smollett after the attack, with Chadwick Boseman writing on Instagram: “Praying for you, brother. Your light is so much stronger than their hate.”
Emma Watson wrote on Twitter: “Disgusted by the ugly prejudice and bigotry behind this violence. Sending love to @JussieSmollett & to anyone that has been hurt by the hatred of those who fear difference.
“As a society, we continue to fail LGBTQIA+ communities and PoC.”
Michael B Jordan wrote on Instagram: “Stand with my brother @jussiesmollett sending you light and love. Be strong We got you.”
Queer Eye host Jonathan Van Ness said “queer people are attacked every single day”, adding: “We have not come as far as we think.”
Kevin Hart, who stepped down from his role as Oscars host after historical homophobic tweets surfaced, also sent Smollett a message of support.
He wrote on Instagram: “Why are we going backwards….this is disgusting. We as people have to do better.”
US president Trump is yet to comment, despite pressure to do so.
Earlier, Empire creator Lee Daniels reacted to the attack and said “America is better than that”.
In an emotional video to Instagram, Daniels called Smollett his “son”, before calling for change.
He said: “It starts at home. We have to love each other regardless of what sexual orientation we are.”
As well as his acting, Smollett is also a singer and activist who has advocated HIV/Aids prevention.