R. Kelly's management responded to the organization Time's Up's call to boycott the R&B singer's music because of the ways he has allegedly mistreated women. "R. Kelly supports the pro-women goals of the Time's Up movement," the statement read. "We understand criticizing a famous artist is a good way to draw attention to those goals – and in this case, it is unjust and off-target."
It later went on to say, "We will vigorously resist this attempted public lynching of a black man who has made extraordinary contributions to our culture."
Earlier in the day, Time's Up posted a call to arms urging women of color to distance themselves from the "Bump n' Grind" hit-maker. After years of allegations against the singer, including one published by Rolling Stone about the singer's former girlfriend Kitti Jones, the organization – an extension of the #MeToo movement with a goal of leveling the playing field in the entertainment industry for women – said that people had been ignoring Kelly for too long. It declared that it was supporting the online campaign called #MuteRKelly.
"Over the past 25 years, the man known publicly as R. Kelly has ... married a girl under 18 years of age, was sued by at least four women for sexual misconduct, statutory rape, aggravated assault, unlawful restraint and furnishing illegal drugs to a minor, was indicted on 21 counts of child pornography [and] has faced allegations of sexual abuse and imprisonment of women under threats of violence and familial harm," the post read. "Together, we call on the following corporations and venues with ties to R. Kelly to join us and insist on safety and dignity for women of all kinds ... " It went on to list Kelly's label, RCA, Ticketmater, Spotify and Apple Music and the Greensboro Coliseum Complex in North Carolina, which is hosting a Kelly concert on May 11th.
The organization's missive ended with a call for "appropriate investigations and inquiries" into Kelly's alleged abuse.
The #MuteRKelly campaign began last year, according to Buzzfeed, but it got a big boost on Monday. The celebrities who have voiced their support of it include Ava DuVernay, Shonda Rhimes, John Legend and Questlove. Tarana Burke who founded the #MeToo movement also lent her support. "All, all, all in together girls," she wrote on Twitter.
"I hoped that a day would come that myself and R. Kelly's other victims would be able to tell our stories about our abuse and not suffer another abuse by not being believed, made fun of and ridiculed," Jones tells Rolling Stone in a statement. "Coming forward brings us another fear of being labeled and mischaracterized. This is a very emotionally hard and long journey for myself but my heart goes out to the victims who never got the attention regarding their story, wanted to end their lives or took payment for silence. I hope they find some peace in what happening right now."
"The statement from Kelly's team comparing this to a lynching is disgusting and suggests he thinks this will pass or be dismissed as a media witch hunt, but it will not. Time is really and truly up for R. Kelly," adds Shay Lawson, Jones' attorney and a Time's Up member. "Time's Up [includes] numerous lawyers backed by millions of donations for defense funding and decades of industry experience. The women of Time's Up are comprised of the best across all industries and are passionate and prepared to end the culture of harassment and inequality that permeates our industry once and for all."
Read R. Kelly's management's full statement:
R. Kelly supports the pro-women goals of the Time's Up movement. We understand criticizing a famous artist is a good way to draw attention to those goals – and in this case, it is unjust and off-target.
We fully support the rights of women to be empowered to make their own choices. Time's Up has neglected to speak with any of the women who welcome R. Kelly's support, and it has rushed to judgment without the facts. 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.
R. 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.