Bill Cosby’s day of reckoning finally came to pass last week, as the comedian was found guilty of sexual assault. Now, in an effort to continue to protect women from predators within the entertainment industry, the Time’s Up movement has formally pledged to back efforts calling for further investigations into R. Kelly’s alleged pattern of sexual abuse.
“We call on people everywhere to join with us to insist on a world in which women of all kinds can pursue their dreams free from sexual assault, abuse and predatory behavior,” a statement from Time’s Up reads. The statement was specifically issued by Time’s Up’s Women of Color (WOC) committee, which includes includes Oscar-nominated director Ava DuVernay and TV magnate Shonda Rhimes.
“We demand appropriate investigations and inquiries into the allegations of R. Kelly’s abuse made by women and their families for more than two decades now. And we declare with great vigilance and a united voice to anyone who wants to silence us — their time is up,” continues the statement.
In particular, Time’s Up is focusing its attention on the #MuteRKelly effort, which seeks to prevent Kelly’s music from being played and pushes for the cancellation of his concerts. Time’s Up is putting the press on the R&B singer’s label, RCA Records, Spotify and Apple Music, where Kelly’s music is available for streaming, and Ticketmaster, which sells his concert tickets.
“We stand linked with our sisters and will no longer tolerate the predatory behavior of R. Kelly to go unchecked. This is a call to action to #MuteRKelly. His music must be turned down and the voices of these brave survivors must be heard,” actress Jurnee Smollett-Bell, another member of the WOC committee, told the Associated Press.
Kelly has long faced sexual misconduct allegations, but last year an especially damning BuzzFeed report accused him of holding women in a multi-state sex cult (Kelly has maintained his innocence all this time). This, of course, came amidst Time’s Up’s takedown of Harvey Weinstein and other sexual predators in Hollywood.
Find Time’s Up’s full statement below.
To Our Fellow Women of Color:
We see you. We hear you. Because we are you.
For too long, our community has ignored our pain. The pain we bear is a burden that too many women of color have had to bear for centuries. The wounds run deep.
As Women of Color within TIME’S UP we recognize that we have a responsibility to help right this wrong. We intend to shine a bright light on our WOC sisters in need. It is our hope that we will never feel ignored or silenced ever again.
The recent court decision against Bill Cosby is one step towards addressing these ills but it is just a start. We call on people everywhere to join with us to insist on a world in which women of all kinds can pursue their dreams free from sexual assault, abuse and predatory behavior.
To this end, today we join an existing online campaign called #MuteRKelly.
Over the past 25 years, the man known publicly as R. Kelly has sold 60 million albums, toured the globe repeatedly, and accumulated hundreds of millions of plays on radio and streaming services.
During this time, he also…
• Married a girl under 18 years of age;
• Was sued by at least 4 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;
• Has faced allegations of sexual abuse and imprisonment of women under threats of violence and familial harm;
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:
• RCA Records – The venerable music label currently produces and distributes R. Kelly’s music;
• Ticketmaster – The popular ticketing system is currently issuing tickets for R. Kelly’s show on May 11;
• Spotify and Apple Music – The popular streaming platforms currently monetizing R. Kelly’s music;
• Greensboro Coliseum Complex – The venue is currently hosting an R. Kelly concert on May 11.
The scars of history make certain that we are not interested in persecuting anyone without just cause. With that said, we demand appropriate investigations and inquiries into the allegations of R. Kelly’s abuse made by women of color and their families for over two decades now. And we declare with great vigilance and a united voice to anyone who wants to silence us – their time is up.
Together, We Are Strong,
WOC | TIME’S UP
Update: In a statement, R. Kelly’s management called the campaign against Kelly “unjust and off-target.” The statement adds, “We will vigorously resist this attempt public lynching of a lack man who has made extraordinary contributions to our culture.”
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.
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.