On December 4, a New York screening of Lifetime’s forthcoming documentary series Surviving R. Kelly—which covers the well-known abuse allegations against R. Kelly via in-depth interviews with women—had to be evacuated after someone called in a gun threat. Kelly’s accusers took the threat as a sign that the documentary is doing its job.
In a press call on Wednesday night, Lizzette Martinez, who was scheduled to speak in a Q&A after the screening with several of Kelly’s accusers, said the called-in threat was scary but that it reminded her of the documentary’s significance. “The fact that someone felt the need to break the law and call in a threat, it just shows that we’re on the right path,” she said. “Someone that would want to do that is obviously trying to cover the truth... We’re standing together as survivors and we will not back down.”
It’s still unclear who made the call and whether they’re connected to R. Kelly, but according to TMZ, the person in question reportedly has a Chicago area code. “Whoever is the mastermind behind it, at the end of the day, you weren’t very smart,” said Kelly’s ex-wife Drea Kelly, who shares her story in the three-part series and previously expressed that she believes the call was connected to Kelly himself. “What you’ve done is heightened the curiosity of what’s in this documentary.”
“I feel like it’s [a] last attempt and an act of desperation,” Lisa Van Allen, another accuser scheduled to speak after the screening that night, added. “It’s similar to what I’ve known and experienced from someone, to keep us all quiet and take control when you can not control us... We are going to all speak out. We are stronger together, and we’re sticking by each other.”
In response to fans who still support R. Kelly despite numerous reports detailing his alleged sexual abuse towards young women over the past few decades, Van Allen said that while nobody is disputing Kelly’s musical talent, to stop supporting his music is to help stop the cycle of abuse. “The reason why we say #MuteRKelly and to not buy his records is because it is the financial backing is what is allowing him to do this to these young women,” she stated. “If he didn’t have the income to do that, to move around, to have staff fly girls in... he wouldn’t be able to do this.”
Surviving R. Kelly airs in three parts on Lifetime January 3-5 and includes over 50 interviews with women who say they’ve been abused by Kelly, as well as members of the media and the music industry, from John Legend to #MeToo founder Tarana Burke. The women in the documentary want to remind everyone that the story they’re telling isn’t just about R. Kelly.
“This movement is not just for the survivors for R. Kelly,” Drea Kelly said. “It’s for all the R. Kellys in the world people don’t know about.”