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Following the assault of Jussie Smollett this week, several LGBTQ and black activist organizations, as well as New York City-based non-profits, are planning a rally to support the Empire actor and survivors of LGBTQ violence.
On Thursday, organizations including the New York City Anti-Violence Project and Voices of Community Activists and Leaders (VOCAL) announced that they would hold the “solidarity rally” on Friday at Grand Army Plaza in Manhattan, at the corner of 59th and 5th Streets, from 5 to 7 p.m. ET. According to a press advisory, speakers at the rally will “share stories of fear, pain and anger” to address violence that inflicts LGBTQ people, and especially queer people of color.
“Black LGBTQ communities, particularly black trans women, have been assaulted, murdered, and face violence every day. With the normalization of violence against queer people, fueled by a toxic racist and anti-LGBTQ political agenda, we must address the ongoing violence against our communities,” the event’s Facebook page reads.
Smollett, who plays the gay musician Jamal Lyon on the Fox drama Empire and has said he identifies as gay in real life, was attacked on Tuesday morning in Chicago while leaving a restaurant. According to police, Smollett says he was punched, had an unidentified chemical substance poured on him and had a rope tied around his neck. The alleged offenders were two men wearing black clothing, one with a black mask. Smollett said they yelled “Make America Great Again” (MAGA) slogans during the attack.
The incident is currently being investigated as a hate crime, according to Chicago police.
On Wednesday, Chicago police released images of “persons of interest” in the case based on surveillance footage. On Thursday, President Donald Trump weighed in, calling the attack “horrible” and saying, “It doesn’t get any worse.”
Other organizations involved in the rally include Queerocracy; the AIDS Center of Queens County; ACT-UP; Ali Forney Center; BYP100; Beyond Bold and Brave presents Black Lesbian Conference; Black and Latino LGBTQ Coalition; Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS; Callen-Lorde Community Health Center; the Center for Anti-Violence Education; Community Kinship Life; Destination Tomorrow; Equality NY; Gays and Lesbians Living In a Transgender Society; Girls for Gender Equity; GLAAD; GMAD; Health & Education Alternatives for Teens; The Ackerman Institute’s Gender & Family Project; the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center; Lambda Legal; New York Trans Advocacy Group; NYC-DSA; NYC Black Pride; Rise and Resist; Queeramisú; The Trevor Project; and Theatre of the Oppressed NYC.
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