Anonymous threats were called into a New York screening of the Lifetime documentary Surviving R. Kelly on Tuesday night, causing the theater to be evacuated. The docuseries, scheduled to premiere on Jan. 3, chronicles numerous allegations lodged by women and girls against the singer, including newly public stories of sexual, mental, and physical abuse. In attendance were about 100 people, including seven alleged survivors.
About 20 or 30 minutes into the premiere, the lights in the theater went up, and management evacuated the building. While the threats were later deemed to be not credible, a spokesperson for NeueHouse Madison Square, where the screening was held, told CNN that the theater followed “appropriate safety protocols in collaboration with the NYPD.” They added, “We stand by the creative women bringing these heroic stories to light.”
In an email to CNN, Surviving R. Kelly showrunner Dream Hampton called the threat “an act of desperation from people who don’t want these truths shared with the world.” Speaking to Rolling Stone, Drea Kelly, R. Kelly’s ex-wife, echoed this sentiment and suggested that her ex-husband was connected to the threats:
“At the end of the day, though, it makes me smile because that lets me know we’re on the right track. We’re causing people to listen. We’re getting people’s attention and we’re getting attention from the one who thought that he was invincible and untouchable … What people don’t understand is that we are a fire that is burning and it’s never going to go out. They thought they were putting us out; they just put gasoline on a fire and now we’re just gonna burn longer and stronger.”