Local leader threatens R. Kelly protest in North Carolina

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R. Kelly says boycotting his music because of the sexual misconduct allegations against him amounts to a “public lynching.” | AP file photo

GREENSBORO, N.C. — As critics of singer R. Kelly seek to cancel his shows because of his alleged mistreatment of women, a community leader in North Carolina says she and others will stage a protest if his Friday show in Greensboro takes place.

Brandi Collins-Calhoun is director of reproductive and maternal health for the YWCA of Greensboro. In a letter to the Greensboro Coliseum, she said if the show isn’t canceled, she and other community leaders will be standing outside the arena in protest.

“The Greensboro Coliseum choosing to host a repeat offender condones the continuous abuse and harm that he has done to African American women and girls, and encourages rape culture,” Collins-Calhoun wrote. “The coliseum has neglected to consider the Black women and girls that largely makes up the community that relies on them for community engagement and entertainment.”

She encouraged the coliseum to “do the right thing” by canceling the show and establishing “justice-centered policies and procedures” for planning any future events.

The letter was also signed by eight other organizations, including NARAL, North Carolina Black Women’s Roundtable and Professional Black Girl.

Coliseum spokesman Andrew Brown said Wednesday officials would have no comment on the letter.

Kelly was scheduled to be among the performers at a May 5 concert in Chicago, but was dropped as protests arose over his planned appearance at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He issued an apology on YouTube , saying he didn’t know why the show was canceled.

“I never heard of a show being canceled because of rumors, but I guess there’s a first time for everything,” he said on the video.

Kelly has faced intense scrutiny in the last year after women have accused him of sexual coercion and physical abuse. He has denied the charges.

The social media campaign #MuteRKelly has sought to stop his music from being played.

Collins-Calhoun said she’s received expressions of support from around the state and expects protesters from cities like Charlotte, Asheville, Raleigh and Durham. She said there’s also been help from Chicago, and from Texas and Georgia.

Saying she hasn’t received a response from the coliseum, Collins-Calhoun suggested that if the concert takes place, it will be her last visit to the coliseum complex. She noted that she’s taken her daughter to see other events there.

“The fact that they would host a concert in the same space where my daughter has enjoyed entertainment is scary and it’s disheartening,” Collins-Calhoun said.

TOM FOREMAN Jr., Associated Press

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