Terrence Howard speaks out in support of Jussie Smollett after hateful attack

Terrence Howard a close friend of Jussie Smollett opened up about the alleged violent hateful attack against his Empire co-star.

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Terrence Howard a close friend of Jussie Smollett opened up about the alleged violent hateful attack against his Empire co-star, during an interview with Good Morning America.

Howard said he was on-set when he learned that Smollett was attacked, E! News reports.

“Jaws dropped to the ground,” he said. “And then 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.”

READ MORE: REPORTS: Police spot persons of interest in Jussie Smollett attack on surveillance video

The 36-year-old actor and singer was brutally beaten by two men wearing ski masks in Chicago early Tuesday morning. They reportedly doused the openly gay actor with bleach and tied a noose around his neck while shouting “MAGA country.”

According to the reports, Smollett was walking out of Subway when someone yelled “Aren’t you that f***ot Empire n*****?” before attacking him.

Howard, who plays Lucious Lyon on the hit Fox series, said even though the attack was a hateful one, he knows that Smollett will be forgiving of his foes.

“Jussie’s anger will dissipate, and he will forgive these people for what they did,” Howard said. “But he won’t, and we cannot, forget their actions. They have to be forgiven because it was done out of ignorance.”

Howard also described Smollett as a light who tried to uplift everyone.

“Jussie’s the one that starts singing when everybody’s in a bad mood,” he added. “He’s the one that cheers everybody up. He’s the one that does all the Instagrams if he catches you sleeping….Today, no one was caught sleeping. No one even took time to close their eyes and nap. They were all in shock that our family—you know, the Fox family, the Empire family, the Lyon family—you know, were attacked by a bunch of hyenas today.”

Persons of interest sought

According to TMZ, investigators have captured multiple persons of interest on surveillance video and plan to release photos to the public in an effort to bring them in for questioning.

While they didn’t refer to the individuals as “suspects,” they plan to release the images soon.

The Chicago Police Department issued a statement on the incident:

“A 36-year-old man was walking at above address when two unknown offenders approached him and gained his attention by yelling out racial and homophobic slurs towards him. The offenders began to batter the victim with their hands about the face and poured an unknown substance on the victim. At some point during the incident, one of the offenders wrapped a rope around the victim’s neck. The offenders fled the scene. The victim self-transported to Northwestern Hospital and is in good condition. Area Central Detectives are investigating.”

Chicago Police Department Chief Spokesman Anthony Guglielmi told E! News that it was a “possible racially-charged assault and battery.” Guglielmi added, “Given the severity of the allegations, we are taking this investigation very seriously and treating it as a possible hate crime. Detectives are currently working to gather video, identify potential witnesses and establish an investigative timeline.”

READ MORE: Fox suspends production of “Empire” until Jussie Smollett gets better

Celebs stand with Jussie

A number of celebs have launched campaigns of support on social media to stand with the Empire star after the reported attack.

Empire creator Lee Daniels posted an emotional Instagram video.

“You didn’t deserve to have a noose put around your neck, to have bleach thrown on you, to be called ‘die f––––t, n––––r,’ or whatever they said to you. You are better than that,” Daniels said in his Instagram video. “We are better than that. America is better than that. We have to love each other regardless of what sexual orientation we are, because it shows that we are united.”

Halle BerryGabrielle UnionAndy CohenEllen DeGeneres, Lenny Kravitz, Tyler Perry, Steve Harvey offered words of support an encouragement.

Taraji P. Henson who plays the mother of Smollett’s Empire character posted a lengthy message to Smollett in support along with a snippet of his very timely video F**ked Up World.

“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. This song needs to be downloaded until it goes triple platinum because the message is NEEDED. #weareresilientpeopleAND #weaintgoingnowhereuntillwearefinished. The love so many have for him just goes to show HE IS LOVE!!!! I LOVE YOU MY BABY MY BABY!!! #LOVEWINSALWAYS.”

“We ALL have a responsibility to rise up against the ignorance and hate out there,” Shonda Rhimes tweeted. “If you know who did this to @JussieSmollett, REPORT THEM TO THE POLICE.”

Empire writer Danny Strong said he was “deeply horrified and saddened by the racist and homophobic attacks.”

Fox has suspended production of Empire until Smollett gets better.