City Councilwoman Helen Gym has introduced a resolution into City Council showing Philadelphia’s solidarity with the ongoing #MuteRKelly campaign in the wake of numerous sexual misconduct allegations against the embattled R & B singer.
Spearheaded by City Council members Gym, Blondell Reynolds Brown, and Cherelle L. Parker, the resolution supports #MuteRKelly’s goal of remedying “decades of silence surrounding” Kelly’s alleged sexual abuse of “Black girls as young as 13” by denying the singer “a public platform” to continue his career. The resolution does not directly ban Kelly from Philadelphia, but Councilwoman Gym noted that it serves as “a public declaration” that “this city doesn’t welcome” him.
“The resolution is about not accepting,” Gym told the Inquirer in a recent interview. “It’s about being clear that we will not accept a future where rape is accepted, and rapists and sexual predators get away with their acts. I believe that R. Kelly and predators like him should be shamed and banished from the public sphere.”
The resolution will be up for a vote in City Council on Thursday.
Councilwoman Gym’s resolution is the latest fallout for Kelly, who currently is under fire for decades of sexual abuse allegations due in part to the release of Surviving R. Kelly, a popular Lifetime docuseries that recently brought the claims against the singer to light once again. As Gym said, the series helped motivate the resolution’s creation, and helped shine “a light for people who haven’t been reading about R. Kelly for years” by providing interviews with survivors of his alleged abuse.
“We’re all talking about [the series]. It matters,” Gym said. “And I and many others are profoundly moved to action.”
In the wake of Surviving R. Kelly’s release, the singer’s live dates in several cities have been canceled (he was not scheduled to play Philadelphia); he’s been dropped from his record label, RCA Records; and he was reportedly banned from visiting his Illinois recording studio outside the hours of 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. due to the facility being in a state of disrepair.
The singer was also reportedly hospitalized earlier this month for panic attacks that stemmed from the backlash against him. As sources told TMZ at the time, Kelly is “aware the pendulum isn’t swinging his way right now in the court of public opinion.”
Sexual misconduct allegations against the singer go back to the 1990s, when he married late singer Aaliyah Haughton, who was 15 at the time, though the couple’s marriage certificate listed her age as 18. The marriage was later annulled. In the years following, a number of additional accusations were levied against Kelly — some women claimed that he had sex with them when they were as young as 15. In 2008, Kelly was acquitted of child pornography charges after a video surfaced that allegedly showed him urinating on and having sex with a 13-year-old girl.
Launched in 2017, the #MuteRKelly campaign was created by organizers Kenyette Barnes and Oronike Odeleye, who were inspired to begin the movement following the publication of a BuzzFeed article that detailed the allegations made against Kelly in July of that year. Initially a campaign to keep Kelly from performing on Barnes and Odeleye’s hometown of Atlanta, the #MuteRKelly movement has since grown to include supporters around the country, including Gym.
“We are uplifting the voices of organizers,” she said. “We’re calling and demanding justice, and Philadelphia is going to add our voice to that national call … We’re not going to turn a blind eye to pain and we will not allow the silencing of black women in favor of powerful men.”