FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Protest Outside Sony Music HQ in NYC Demands RCA Records #MuteRKelly; Protect Black Girls
Groups Rally Outside Sony Music HQ, Deliver 217,000+ Signatures to Sony Music Demanding RCA Records Drop R. Kelly
NEW YORK — Earlier today, advocates from #MuteRKelly, Black Women’s Blueprint, Care2, Color of Change, CREDO, Girls for Gender Equity, NOW-NYC, and UltraViolet, held a rally outside Sony Music’s HQ in Manhattan, calling on Sony Music and its subsidiary, RCA Records to immediately drop R. Kelly in the wake of the Lifetime docu-series Surviving R. Kelly, which details Kelly’s decades of sexual abuse perpetrated against young Black women and girls, and those in the music industry who have not only enabled him, but profited from him.
At the protest, dubbed the “Rally to MuteRKelly/Protect Black Girls,” advocates delivered petitions signed by more than 217,000 people demanding RCA Records drop R. Kelly. The protesters also presented Sony Music and RCA Records with a “Record Label of Shame” award. Joanne N. Smith, Founder & President of Girls for Gender Equity; Jamilah Lemieux, Writer/Cultural Critic (“Surviving R. Kelly”); Jade Magnus Ogunnaike, Director of Organizing, Color of Change; Sharaya Tindal, Communications Campaign Manager, Black Women’s Blueprint; and Natalie Green, Spokesperson and Communications Manager, UltraViolet all spoke at the rally.
“It has been years of story after story of Black girls and women’s lives filled with abuse and degradation at the hands of R. Kelly,” said Sonia Ossorio, President of the National Organization for Women in New York City. “Parents are desperate to see their children. How do Rob Stringer, Peter Edge and the whole Sony Music family sleep at night? They have been complicit in tearing families apart. They should do everything in their power to help these parents reunite with their children and sever their relationship with the predator and abuser R. Kelly.”
“Black Women’s Blueprint has been at the forefront of this fight to bring R. Kelly to accountability for his predation of Black girls and women for a decade. We are encouraged that others like Kenyette Barnes and Oronike Odeleye #MuteRKelly founders continue to draw numbers to the movement to expose, and hold accountable all sexual predators and those that protect them through active and positive complicity. RCA has made millions from the abuse of Black girls and women for decades. Times up for RCA’s complicity,” said Sharaya Tindal Wiesendanger, Strategic Communications Coordinator of Black Women’s Blueprint.
“RCA is showing women everywhere exactly what it stands for by keeping quiet about R. Kelly’s horrendous and completely unchecked abuse of young Black girls—abuse that has spanned decades without so much as a slap on the wrist,” said Rebecca Gerber, Senior Director of Engagement at Care2. “Since July 2017, we have worked with the #MuteRKelly founders to hold RCA accountable for its partnership with Kelly, and it’s time RCA took action. Reports that RCA won’t release Kelly’s new music are not even close to enough. The label must do better and sever all ties with Kelly immediately.”
“RCA halting production on R. Kelly’s new music is not enough,” said Jade Magnus Ogunnaike, Director of Organizing at Color of Change. “It is time for RCA to take a real stand on behalf of the Black girls and women that R.Kelly has systematically abused for over twenty-five years and drop him from their label immediately.”
“RCA Records has made millions of dollars marketing R. Kelly as a sex symbol while Black girls and young women have accused him sexually abusing them,” CREDO Action Co-Director Heidi Hess said. “Now, thanks to the ‘Surviving R. Kelly’ docuseries, the record label is coming under massive pressure to stop promoting and enabling a known sexual predator,” Hess continued. “RCA can’t undo the damage it has done by standing with R. Kelly in the past, but it can start to make things right by immediately dropping him from the label and committing to hold itself and its artists to a higher standard moving forward.”
“Earlier this month, we had the extraordinary experience of bearing witness to the stories of countless survivors and their families who shared the decades of abuse they endured at the hands of R. Kelly. Today, there is nothing stopping RCA Records from dropping him from their record label – other than their desire to continue to stand by a serial perpetrator of child sexual abuse. To the R. Kelly survivors – we believe you. To the girls still inside – we will always wait for you. And to RCA Records – your time to drop R. Kelly is now,” said Joanne N. Smith, Founder & President of Girls for Gender Equity.
“Since 2017, #MuteRKelly has been committed to calling for Sony, RCA, LiveNation, and those in the entertainment, promotion and production of R. Kelly’s music to divest. R. Kelly has been able to amass the capital and status to prey upon vulnerable Black girls in our community, and the ability to buy himself out of accountability. #MuteRKelly has had financial impact on his career, and provided a platform for local activists to have their work amplified and elevated, on a National scale, calling attention to the decades of activism and awareness to addressing sexual violence among Black women and girls. Going forward, we will continue this fight. We will continue to protest, cancel concerts, put pressure on Sony, RCA, LiveNation, radio and streaming sites to divest from supporting him. We are actively putting pressure on District Attorneys in Georgia and Illinois to pursue the charges brought before them. We stand resolute. We remain steadfast in the face of detractors. We are committed to our goal to #MuteRKelly, and to at all times center the sexual agency and advocacy of Black women and girls,” explained Kenyette Tisha Barnes, Co-Founder, #MuteRKelly
“This is not simply a case of separating the art from the artist. R. Kelly has used his celebrity to prey on those most vulnerable, while often proudly flaunting his sexual abuse in his lyrics and music videos. As a result, RCA has a moral responsibility to cease its relationship with him and an ethical obligation to stop re-traumatizing R. Kelly’s victims,” added Salamishah Tillet and Scheherazade Tillet, Co-Founders of A Long Walk Home.
“RCA and Sony Music should have dumped R. Kelly and taken a stand against his abuse of women a long time ago – and their continued inaction and silence is beyond shameful. Kelly uses his fame, fortune, and standing in the music industry to lure in and abuse young black girls – and because of the work of the #MuteRKelly movement, RCA Records can no longer pretend that Kelly’s music can be separated from his violent actions,” explained Shaunna Thomas, co-founder and executive director of UltraViolet. “Kelly has been able to get away with his years of abuse precisely because his victims are young Black girls who face even more barriers to justice than their white peers – but that time is over. We believe and support Black survivors of sexual violence and are proud to work alongside the amazing Black women organizers who have been calling out R. Kelly and his enablers at Sony Music and RCA Records – to demand justice.”
VIEW PHOTOS FROM THE ACTION HERE:
(Please credit Melissa Bender when using these photos. @melissabenderphoto on Facebook or Instagram, or @mbenderphoto on Twitter)
WATCH VIDEO FROM THE ACTION HERE: https://www.facebook.com/weareultraviolet/videos/305841423404285/