Critics who accuse singer R. Kelly of sexual misconduct are threatening to stage a protest at his upcoming show in North Carolina if it isn’t canceled.
The threatened protest in Greensboro is the latest manifestation of the #MuteRKelly social media campaign that has sought to stop his music from being played.
Kelly’s management team issued a statement late Wednesday saying he was looking forward to the concert.
Brandi Collins-Calhoun is director of reproductive and maternal health for the YWCA of Greensboro. In a letter to the Greensboro Coliseum, she said if the show isn’t canceled, she and other community leaders will be standing outside the arena in protest.
“The Greensboro Coliseum choosing to host a repeat offender condones the continuous abuse and harm that he has done to African American women and girls, and encourages rape culture,” Collins-Calhoun wrote. “The coliseum has neglected to consider the Black women and girls that largely makes up the community that relies on them for community engagement and entertainment.”
She encouraged the coliseum to “do the right thing” by canceling the show and establishing “justice-centered policies and procedures” for planning any future events.
The letter was also signed by eight other organizations, including NARAL, North Carolina Black Women’s Roundtable and Professional Black Girl.
Coliseum spokesman Andrew Brown said Wednesday officials would have no comment on the letter.
Kelly was scheduled to be among the performers at a May 5 concert in Chicago, but was dropped as protests arose. He issued an apology on YouTube , saying he didn’t know why the show was canceled.
“I never heard of a show being canceled because of rumors, but I guess there’s a first time for everything,” he said on the video.
In the statement, his management team referred to those opposed to his scheduled performance as well as the people who want to see him.
“A publicity-driven protest by a handful of people is in keeping with their First Amendment rights, and they are free to skip the event,” the statement said. “Just as fans of R. Kelly have the First Amendment right to attend his concerts without reprisal and share their love of R&B.”
Kelly has faced intense scrutiny in the last year after women have accused him of sexual coercion and physical abuse. He has denied the charges.
The social media campaign #MuteRKelly has sought to stop his music from being played.
Collins-Calhoun said she’s received expressions of support from around the state and expects protesters from cities like Charlotte, Asheville, Raleigh and Durham. She said there’s also been help from Chicago, and from Texas and Georgia.
Saying she hasn’t received a response from the coliseum, Collins-Calhoun suggested that if the concert takes place, it will be her last visit to the coliseum complex. She noted that she’s taken her daughter to see other events there.
“The fact that they would host a concert in the same space where my daughter has enjoyed entertainment is scary and it’s disheartening,” Collins-Calhoun said.