Last week, a New York City judge ruled against Kesha’s request for a preliminary injunction in her case against producer Dr. Luke, who she’s accused of “sexual and drug related” assault. (“I didn’t rape Kesha and I have never had sex with her,” Dr. Luke, whose real name is Lukasz Gottwald, posted Monday via Twitter. “It’s sad that she would turn a contract negotiation into something so horrendous and untrue,” he said in a separate tweet. “But I feel confident when this is over the lies will be exposed and the truth will prevail…” He has also filed a suit against the singer, accusing her of defamation and repudiation of their recording agreement.)
In the wake of the decision, marquee pop names, like Ariana Grande, Lady Gaga, and Kelly Clarkson — who worked with Dr. Luke on hits like “Since U Been Gone” — shared support for the singer, who later thanked her colleagues and fans in moving posts on Instagram and Facebook.
Friday, some supporters moved off social media and onto the streets of New York City. In a protest organized by the @KeshaTODAY Twitter account, run by 19-year-old Naugatuck Community College student Michael Eisele and launched at the beginning of the pop-star’s legal battles in 2013, fans gathered outside the Sony Music Entertainment offices in Midtown Manhattan. (Sony is the parent company of Gottwald’s Kemosabe label, to which Kesha is signed.)
Kesha’s side has insisted she is unable to make music without Gottwald due to her contract. But Sony Music’s lawyer Scott Edelman told the New York Times, “Sony has made it possible for Kesha to record without any connection, involvement, or interaction with Luke whatsoever, but Sony is not in a position to terminate the contractual relationship between Luke and Kesha.”
They came with glitter, signs, and plenty to say. Below, read what they had to tell EW about their commitment to Kesha’s cause.
“What attaches me to Kesha’s cause is that she means so much to me and so many people — to everyone here and more across the world. We’re here to bring the #FreeKesha movement, which has been growing in momentum, to [Sony’s] front door. If I could say anything to Kesha right now, I would say, ‘Kesha, we are doing this for you. You are inspiring us now more than ever and we love you.”
Devon Baran, 18
“It’s awesome that [this protest] is happening, but it’s a problem that it has to happen. If an artist is signed with you, you’re supposed to make them feel safe and that they can create in an environment where their creativity can be fluid and free — and that they can do so unharmed. To not allow [Kesha] that liberty is an outrage to women all over. It also tells men that in an institution like this, at Sony Music, that the more of a financial benefit you are, the more immune you are to punishment. That’s a message that shouldn’t be sent, ever.”
Lori Belovin, 21
“Once I heard Kesha’s music, I realized she was such a beautiful person, inside and out. I was so devastated [last Friday]. You shouldn’t have to have a doctor’s note or video to prove that you were raped. She came forward and got shut down, it’s heartbreaking.”
“This is about more than Kesha, more than music — I probably can’t even name a Kesha song — but it’s about when one woman’s voice, or one person’s voice, is silenced how we all have a responsibility to step up.”
Antony Correia, 22
“It’s unfortunate that this [movement] is happening two years after her problems began. It’s tragic. No one should be forced, man or woman, should be forced to work with their abuser. We’re obviously here to fight for her freedom, but it’s about more than Kesha. Hopefully her bravery helps other victims come forward.”
“I became a Kesha fan in 2011, and I’ve been following this [case] since it started. We drove down from Saratoga, New York this morning. I hope this shows that Kesha has muscle behind her. We’re here, we’re going to stay. We’re here for you Kesha. We love you! Thank you for all the years of your music and how happy you’ve made everyone — we’re here to do what you’ve done for us.”
Kate Devivo, 18
“It’s about way more than Kesha now. It’s about women’s rights. There’s so much sexual abuse that doesn’t go reported and that needs to change. If Kesha can win this trial, who’s to say that won’t help more people come forward? [And] I want to tell Kesha that she is a brave, beautiful woman who is going to get through this — that this is not a lost cause.”
Shameena Mohammed, 17
“I’ve been a Kesha fan for a while. I want to support her because she was there for me when I needed her, so I want to be there for her. I want to tell her not to worry and to stay strong.”
For more on Kesha and Dr. Luke’s case, see EW’s explainer.