Jussie Smollett, actor on the Fox Series “Empire,” was hospitalized earlier this month after being assaulted in what is being possibly investigated as a hate crime.
The assaulters attacked Smollett on the streets in Chicago, and allegedly tied a noose around his neck while dousing him with an unknown chemical.
The crime is potentially being considered a hate crime. Smollett fell victim to the attack because of his portrayal of an openly gay character on the Fox series “Empire,” while also being a homosexual person of color in real life.
The attackers, while not currently identified at the time of publication, are two white men who are no more than 25 years old.
The attackers were caught on video right before the attack, and were seen with the noose being worn as a necktie by one of them. The video did not show the actual assault, and the video is still in the process of decided whether or not the evidence is usable in a courtroom.
A big controversial aspect of this crime are the words used by the attackers, and these words are what sparked the debate of calling this a hate crime.
Witnesses, including Smollett himself, recall hearing the attackers using racial slurs, homophobic comments and parts of President Trump’s “Make America Great Again” campaign.
In a society where LGBTQ+ pride has become more common, and tolerance is expected, this gives some members of the community reasons to be concerned about our governments political climate.
“These events are beginning to worry me, because as a member of the LGBTQ+ community, I am beginning to believe that we are truly going backward in acceptance with our current president and others in power convincing citizens that being someone like me is wrong and is becoming increasingly widespread,” said Blake Jonassen (‘22).
Some other students believe that this instance will shed a light for others to see. David Parnell (‘21) says that they are not worried that hate crimes, such as these, will set back the socio-political progress of the United States because it shows the prejudice many queer people and people of color face every day. Parnell also hopes that these attackers are prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
Several schools across the country have also showed concern for their students, particularly people of color and members of the LGBTQ+ community. Some schools are also doing their best to increase security measures in case of a situation like this.
“My sense of safety on campus is not moved by this incident because the attitude toward both queer and people of color is much different than what you may find at a Trump rally,” said Parnell.
Parnell believes that the students on campus are responsible for the nature of their own behavior, and if someone sees or hears about one of these incidents, they should report it immediately.
“Even though I’m worried about society in general, I do not believe that people on this campus will become hostile because all of my interactions with everyone on campus have been positive and everyone seems to be much more inclusive than the rest of society,” said Jonassen.
Both Parnell and Jonassen encourage each student to become aware of what is happening around them. If you see any person being verbally or physically assaulted, speak up and contact authorities.