- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 2, 2019

R. Kelly is no longer welcome in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where lawmakers voted Thursday in support of a resolution symbolically banning the embattled singer from the city of brotherly love.

Passed unanimously by a voice vote of the Philadelphia City Council, the effort came to fruition following last month’s airing of “Surviving R. Kelly,” a cable TV docu-series that depicted the Chicago-born, Grammy Award-winning vocalist as a serial sexual abuser.

“This resolution is about fundamentally stating a public declaration that R. Kelly and sexual predators like him don’t belong in a public sphere, with public support,” said Helen Gym, a Democratic councilperson who co-sponsored the bill. “This symbolic act of solidarity puts all sexual predators on notice.”

“We reject a system that silences black women and accepts black pain,” she said in a statement issued after the resolution passed. “We believe survivors. R. Kelly is not welcome in Philadelphia.”

The effort in Philly to symbolically ban the singer born Robert Kelly, 52, emerged after last month’s six-hour TV series told the stories of multiple women who alleged being physically, mentally and sexually abused by the artist during the course of his decadeslong professional musical career.

Coupled with the actions of the #MuteRKelly campaign, a grassroots movement created in 2017, outrage over the Lifetime series has subsequently resulted in consequences for R. Kelly ranging from parting ways with his record label, Sony Music’s RCA, to attracting the attention of criminal investigators. Prosecutors in Chicago and Atlanta both expressed an interest in pursuing related charges after “Surviving R. Kelly” aired early mast month.

Mr. Kelly has previously denied all allegations. He was infamously charged more than a decade ago with 14 counts of child pornography, but a jury found him not guilty following a four-week trial that ended in June 2008.

Mr. Kelly won three Grammy awards in 1998 for the song “I Believe I Can Fly.” He was previously nominated three years earlier for writing, producing and composing Michael Jackson’s last chart-topping single, “You Are Not Alone.”

Kenyette Barnes, a co-founder of the #MuteRKelly movement, told councilmembers that the campaign’s efforts have resulted in the cancelation of 12 concerts totaling an estimated $1.75 million in lost revenue.

The city’s council is made up of 17 members: 14 Democrats and three Republicans. 

• Andrew Blake can be reached at ablake@washingtontimes.com.

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