Singer calls support of #MuteRKelly by movement’s Women of Color branch a ‘greedy, conscious and malicious conspiracy to demean’
R Kelly has responded to the Women of Color (WOC) branch of the Time’s Up movement having pledged their support for the online campaign #MuteRKelly. The group aims to encourage Kelly’s record label, concert promoters, ticket sellers and streaming services to break ties with the singer over numerous allegations of sexual impropriety.
Kelly’s management attacked the group in a statement released to Variety magazine, describing the campaign as an “attempted public lynching of a black man who has made extraordinary contributions to our culture”.
The statement claimed that Time’s Up had “neglected to speak with any of the women who welcome R Kelly’s support”, and added: “Kelly supports the pro-women goals of the Time’s Up movement. We understand criticising a famous artist is a good way to draw attention to those goals – and in this case, it is unjust and off-target.”
Kelly’s management claimed: “Soon it will become clear Mr Kelly is the target of a greedy, conscious and malicious conspiracy to demean him, his family and the women with whom he spends his time. Kelly’s music is a part of American and African American culture that should never – and will never – be silenced. Since America was born, black men and women have been lynched for having sex or for being accused of it. We will vigorously resist this attempted public lynching of a black man who has made extraordinary contributions to our culture.”
Kelly has also responded to being dropped from the lineup of the Love Jam concert, due to take place on 5 May at the University of Illinois in his home town of Chicago. The singer apologised to his fans and claimed he did not know why his performance had been cancelled: “I never heard of a show being cancelled because of rumours, but I guess there’s a first time for everything.” More than 1,300 students and staff at the university signed a petition demanding that the singer be prevented from performing at the college.
Kelly, 51, has faced a number of allegations of abuse against women, including claims of controlling them in an “abusive cult”. Kelly “unequivocally” denied the claims detailed in an extensive BuzzFeed investigation that he was holding women in a “cult”, with his lawyers saying he “will work diligently and forcibly to pursue his accusers and clear his name”.
WOC’s open letter, published on Monday, cites Kelly’s history of alleged impropriety, including his annulled marriage to the late R&B singer Aaliyah when she was 15 years old, lawsuits brought by “at least four women for sexual misconduct, statutory rape, aggravated assault, unlawful restraint, and furnishing illegal drugs to a minor”; his indictment on 21 counts of child pornography, and ongoing allegations of “sexual abuse and imprisonment of women under threats of violence and familial harm”.
Kelly was acquitted of the child pornography charges in 2008, and has settled numerous lawsuits out of court while denying wrongdoing.
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