By Christian Holub
April 30, 2018 at 03:53 PM EDT
Noam Galai/Getty Images

Leaders of the Time’s Up movement announced Monday a call to boycott and “mute” R&B superstar R. Kelly in response to the bevy of accusations against him.

“The scars of history make certain that we are not interested in persecuting anyone without just cause,” leaders of the movement wrote in a statement posted on Instagram and The Root. “With that said, we demand appropriate investigations and inquiries into the allegations of R. Kelly’s abuse made by women of color and their families for over two decades now. And we declare with great vigilance and a united voice to anyone who wants to silence us: Their time is up.”

Kelly has faced accusations of sexual assault and scandals for years. In 1994, Kelly (then 27 years old) illegally married a singer and protegée Aaliyah (then 15) and produced her debut album, titled Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number. (The marriage was later annulled after she admitted to lying about her age.) In 2002, Kelly was indicted on 21 counts of child pornography after the Chicago Sun-Times received a video allegedly showing Kelly having sex with an underage girl and urinating on her. Kelly was acquitted of all charges, but he found himself in legal trouble again in July 2017, when BuzzFeed News reported that Kelly was keeping women against their will in a “cult.” Kelly released a statement via his lawyer saying he “unequivocally denies such allegations” and subsequently called those claims “a bunch of crap” on social media, but a new BBC documentary in March featured Kelly’s ex-girlfriend Kitti Jones talking about how he “trained” women to be his “pets.”

In their statement, Time’s Up leaders call on major corporations and venues to cut ties with R. Kelly. They call out RCA Records for producing and distributing Kelly’s music; Ticketmaster for selling tickets to his shows (this weekend the entertainment company pulled him from the lineup for the upcoming UIC Pavilion’s Pre-Mother’s Day Love Jam concert), Spotify and Apple Music for monetizing his music; and North Carolina’s Greensboro Coliseum Complex for hosting a planned Kelly show on May 11. Celebrities including Questlove and John Legend joined the call to #MuteRKelly as well. (See those and more reactions below.)

Representatives for R. Kelly did not immediately respond to EW’s request for comment, but in a statement to BuzzFeed, a rep for the singer said, “R. Kelly supports the pro-women goals of the Time’s Up movement. We understand criticizing a famous artist is a good way to draw attention to those goals — and in this case, it is unjust and off-target,” adding that the criticism is an “attempted public lynching of a black man who has made extraordinary contributions to our culture.”

“We fully support the rights of women to be empowered to make their own choices. Time’s Up has neglected to speak with any of the women who welcome R. Kelly’s support, and it has rushed to judgment without the facts. Soon it will become clear Mr. Kelly is the target of a greedy, conscious and malicious conspiracy to demean him, his family and the women with whom he spends his time.” (Read more here.)

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