'Surviving R. Kelly’ documentary premiere shut down over safety threat


 // Dec 5, 2018

Randee St. Nicholas // RCA Records

Tuesday (Dec. 4) night, a screening of Lifetime's upcoming docu-series "Surviving R. Kelly" was shut down by police after the venue reportedly received several anonymous threats claiming that someone in the audience would fire a gun if the event proceeded as planned.

According to reports, organizers of the promotional event for the six-part docu-series, which highlights the stories of several women who have accused the R&B singer of sexual abuse and misconduct, decided to evacuate as a precaution.

"Despite non-credible threats called in during tonight's screening, we followed appropriate safety protocols in collaboration with the NYPD and elected to postpone the event," a representative from the NeueHouse Madison Square theater shared with Pitchfork. "We stand by the creative women bringing these heroic stories to light."

Reports also claim that R. Kelly's ex-wife Andrea Kelly and several women who have spoken up with allegations against the singer including Kitti Jones, Jerhonda Pace, Lisa Van Allen, Asante McGee and Lizzette Martinez were all in attendance. Additionally, Tarana Burke, the founder of the #MeToo movement, and cultural critic Jamilah Lemieux were also in the building. Due to the precautionary efforts to evacuate and call off the event, all in attendance remained safe.

"The first thing that came to my mind — and I can't speak for anyone else — was that [R. Kelly] had this shut down," Andrea shared with Rolling Stone. "I believe it was somebody connected to him. This was an outside, inside job to me. Someone on the outside does not want what's going on, on the inside to be completed. Whoever it came from, they know that this is not a good thing because there's power in numbers."

She added: "At the end of the day, though, it makes me smile because that lets me know we're on the right track. We're causing people to listen. We're getting people's attention and we're getting attention from the one who thought that he was invincible and untouchable. And that also applies to the people that work for him and the people that are around him."

According to Lifetime, the series is an in-depth investigation -- during which women come forward with "new allegations of sexual, mental and physical abuse" -- into the controversial singer.

Those involved in the film and those supporting it voiced opinions that the anonymous threats were called in as an attempt to intimidate and silence those who have come forward with allegations against Kelly.

"Calling in a non-credible threat to the NYPD to interrupt our screening is an act of desperation from people who don't want these truths shared with the world," executive producer and showrunner Dream Hampton said in an email to CNN. "The survivors who bravely sat with me for this docuseries know all to well what R. Kelly is capable of, every one of them has stories of being abused and controlled by him."

R. Kelly's team has not yet issued a statement on the matter.

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