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Kerry Washington, Zendaya and More Call for Justice in Racist Attack on Jussie Smollett

'America is better than that'

Kelly Connolly

In the wake of a racist and homophobic attack on Empireactor Jussie Smollett, celebrities and activists are coming together on social media to support the actor and condemn his assailants.

"Thinking of Jussie," wrote If Beale Street Could Talk director Barry Jenkins, who called Smollett the "kindest soul."

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Viola Davis tweeted, "THIS is why the LGBTQ community continue to fight to be seen and PROTECTED against hate!"

Zendaya commented, "I just hope there is justice in this hateful and targeted act of violence."

One of the most emotional responses to the incident came from Empire co-creator Lee Daniels, who said in a video, "It's taken me a minute to come to social media about this because Jussie, you are my son. You didn't deserve, nor anybody deserves, to have a noose put around your neck, to have bleach thrown on you, to be called, 'die f-----, n-----, ' or whatever they said to you. You are better than that. We are better than that. America is better than that. It starts at home. It starts at home, yo. We have to love each other, regardless of what sexual orientation we are. Because it shows we are a united front. And no racist f--k can come in and do the things they did to you. Hold your head up, Jussie. I'm with you, I'll be there in a minute. It's just another f--king day in America."

TMZ first reported the news about Smollett's assault and the Chicago Police later released a statement confirming a cast member on the Fox drama was beaten and hospitalized. (Chicago police did not mention Smollett by name.)

According to the police statement, two men approached the 36-year-old and "gained his attention by yelling out racial and homophobic slurs toward him."

Stars like John Legend, Danielle Brooks and Kerry Washington were among the public voices speaking out about the attack and the motives behind it, as were a number of journalists and activists.