Kevin Hart Sends 'Prayers' to Jussie Smollett — But Faces Backlash in Wake of Homophobic Tweets

Kevin Hart Sends 'Prayers' to Jussie Smollett — But Faces Backlash in Wake of Homophobic Tweets

Kevin Hart has joined the chorus of celebrities speaking out after Jussie Smollett was the victim of an apparent violent hate crime.

The actor, 39, sent Smollett well-wishes in an Instagram post late Tuesday, encouraging the Empire star to “stand strong.” 

“Sending prayers your way @jussiesmollett ….This is unbelievably sad,” Hart captioned a photo of Smollett, 36. “Why are we going backwards….this is disgusting. We as people have to do better. WTF is going on the world???? Why are we falling in love with hate???? God damn it people….Choose love…I repeat…Choose love. I will forever choose love and I will continue to teach my kids how to do the same. Stand strong brother.”

However, Hart received some criticism for the message in the wake of the comedian’s past homophobic tweets that resurfaced last month and caused him to step down from hosting the Oscars. He later apologized.

A number of social media users pointed to the attack on Smollett as an example of why Hart’s past controversial jokes were widely criticized.

“This is why someone’s jokes about beating their gay son were never funny,” wrote TV writer Ira Madison III.

“Do you see why the jokes weren’t funny now?” wrote another Twitter user.

“This is your reminder that his jokes reflect actual attitudes that produce what happened to Jussie,” wrote another.

RELATED: Kevin Hart Apologizes to the LGBTQ Community ‘Once Again’ for His Hurtful Past Comments

At around 2 a.m. local time in Chicago on Tuesday, Smollett went to the hospital after he was the victim of an apparent hate crime.

The Chicago Police Department confirmed in a statement that a member of the hit Fox show was involved in a “racially-charged assault and battery,” though they did not name Smollett.

“A 36 year old man was walking … when two unknown offenders approached him and gained his attention by yelling out racial and homophobic slurs towards him,” the statement read. “The offenders began to batter the victim with their hands about the face and poured an unknown chemical 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.”

A Chicago P.D. spokesperson told PEOPLE that no arrests have been made and there are no solid suspects at this time.

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