City Council passed a resolution created by Helen Gym last week that showed solidarity with sexual assault victims and supporters of the #MuteRKelly movement, a campaign against musician and alleged sexual predator R. Kelly.
The musician has been at the center of a national outrage after the recent release of Lifetime channel’s documentary “Surviving R. Kelly” that took a close look at his alleged violence against black women and girls over the last few decades.
Kenyette Barnes is the national cofounder of #MuteRKelly and came to Philly on Thursday to speak to the potential economic impact the proposed resolution could have against R. Kelly. “We’ve had eight active protests at concerts, canceled 12 concerts at an estimated $1.57 million in lost revenue,” Barnes said. “This movement is about saying enough is enough and not allow people to rest on hero worship.”
Dr. Monique Howard is the executive director of Women Organized Against Rape and spoke at length against R. Kelly at Thursday’s hearing. “R. Kelly is the true definition of a sexual predator. He preys on young girls, those who are vulnerable, easy to manipulate and most likely starstruck,” Howard said. “Some of his victims may have experienced abuse in previous relationships. We’ve heard about his crimes for decades, his crimes are outlined in his music and his moniker as the Pied Piper. Robert Kelly’s victims were young Black girls, undervalued and under-cared for.”
As the founder of Victory Over Inconceivable Cowardly Experiences, local organizer and sexual trauma survivor LaQuisha Anthony was adamant in her support of the resolution at Thursday’s hearing. “Banning R. Kelly sends a message that revenue is not more important than the safety and care of our women and girls, more specifically that black women and girls matter,” Anthony added.
Anthony optimistically evoked the late civil rights leader Malcolm X in pointing to the resolution as the beginning of a paradigm shift. “Malcolm X said the the most disrespected person in America is a black woman, the most unprotected person in America is the black woman, the most neglected person in America is the black woman. But yet today as a black woman and a survivor, this is a great step in making me feel protected, respected, cared for and supported.”