A crowd of about 30 protesters gathered outside the Greensboro Coliseum in North Carolina Friday to protest an R. Kelly concert as part of the latest installment in the #MuteRKelly movement.
Women’s groups had urged the Coliseum to cancel the event, days after Kelly was dropped from the lineup of a May 5 concert in Chicago. That decision came as efforts by organizers of the #MuteRKelly campaign gained attention with support from Hollywood’s Time’s Up.
“We don’t want North Carolina or the city of Greensboro to put money in R. Kelly’s pockets,” said Omisade Burney-Scott of Sistersong, a Durham-based “reproductive justice” group.
“We don’t want North Carolina or the city of Greensboro to put money in R. Kelly’s pockets.”
R. Kelly is one of pop music’s best-selling artists, with hits including “Ignition,” ”I Believe I Can Fly,” ”Step in the Name of Love,” ”Same Girl” and “Bump N’ Grind.” He’s also written hits for Celene Dion, Michael Jackson and Lady Gaga.
He was acquitted in 2008 of child pornography after a video circulated that appeared to show him having sex with a teenage girl. But as he continued to score hits and sell out stadiums, more women have come forward in recent years accusing him of sexual misconduct.
“Kelly is innocent of the false and hurtful accusations in the ongoing smear campaign against him waged by enemies seeking a payoff,” his management said in a statement. “He never has been convicted of a crime, nor does he have any pending criminal charges against him.”
“He never has been convicted of a crime, nor does he have any pending criminal charges against him.”
On Friday, protesters gathered outside the Coliseum and criticized arena officials for declining to meet with a coalition of women’s groups that signed a letter citing a “long term history of sexual misconduct” by Kelly, Greensboro’s News & Record reported.
“It’s important for the black community to stand up and hold him accountable for his actions,” said Omisade Burney-Scott, with Sistersong.
Despite the protests outside, the singer took the stage, launching into a sexually suggestive repertoire. At one point, he rubbed a fan’s cell phone between his legs. He persuaded another to wipe his face and crotch with a towel.
On Thursday, Spotify, citing its new policy against hateful content and conduct, announced that Kelly’s music is no longer available on the service’s owned and operated playlists and algorithmic recommendations. His music can still be found by those who search for it, but Spotify will not promote it. Other prominent streaming services like Pandora appeared to be demoting his music as well.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.