No Brotherly Love: Philadelphia city Councilwoman wants to ban R. Kelly

(L- R) HIAS Executive Director Judith Bernstein Baker and Philadelphia Councilwoman Helen Gym attend the HIAS #RefugeesWelcome Thanksgiving at the Old Pine Community Center November 22, 2015 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Bill McCay/Getty Images for MoveOn.org

Philadelphia City Councilwoman Helen Gym has never been shy about taking a stand against problematic individuals being in the city.

In 2017, she took the highly unpopular stand of calling for the removal of the statue commemorating former Mayor Frank Rizzo, who was known for his racist and homophobic police policies that saw black men forcibly strip-searched and raided clubs in the city’s Gayborhood. This came in response to the riot in Charlottesville, Va.

 

Gym has now set her sights on disgraced singer R. Kelly. The first-term councilwoman introduced a resolution on Thursday that could effectively ban the singer from performing in any of the city’s numerous venues.

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The resolution sets out to “deny the singer a public platform.” In a pair of tweets, Gym tweeted her support of the Surviving R. Kelly documentary series as well as its producer Dream Hampton.

The resolution was spearheaded by Gym along with Councilwomen Blondell Reynolds Brown and Cherelle Parker. While it does not directly ban Kelly from the city, Gym and others made it clear noted that it is “a public declaration” he is not welcome in Philly.

 “The resolution is about not accepting,” Gym told the Philadelphia Inquirer. “It’s about being clear that we will not accept a future where rape is accepted, and rapists and sexual predators get away with their acts.

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“I believe that R. Kelly and predators like him should be shamed and banished from the public sphere,” she added. Gym also referenced the #MuteRKelly campaign that was started by Kenyette Barnes and called for radio stations and streaming services to stop playing Kelly’s songs as well as for labels to drop the singer.

Sony Records did just that last week, dropping Kelly from the label amid the backlash. The label will maintain his back catalog, which has sold more than 32 million records.