Lifetime’s Tuesday night New York City screening of its docuseries Surviving R. Kelly came to a halt when the NeueHouse Madison Square Garden theater had to be evacuated due to a gun threat. Kelly’s ex-wife, Drea Kelly, #MeToo founder Tarana Burke, and multiple survivors of Kelly’s alleged abuse were in attendance at the screening. One of the anonymous calls to the NYPD alleging the threat on the theater came from Chicago, where Kelly has a residence. His ex-wife now believes the singer was behind the threat.
“The first thing that came to my mind — and I can’t speak for anyone else — was that [R. Kelly] had this shut down. I believe it was somebody connected to him,” she tells Rolling Stone. “This was an outside inside-job to me; someone on the outside does not want what’s going on on the inside to be completed. Whoever it came from, they know that this is not a good thing because there’s power in numbers.” The rapper has not commented on the incident. She added to Variety, “I don’t believe in happenstance, I don’t believe that anything is a coincidence. I do believe that in some shape, form or fashion it is connected to him. Now, whether he orchestrated it or not, that I cannot say. But I just do not believe in coincidences. Of all the theaters, of all the nights, of all the premieres, it happened with us.”
Lifetime said in a statement after the evacuation, “As a precaution we evacuated. Tonight’s all about the safety of everyone, we’re not even thinking of what to do next yet.” NeueHouse Madison Square Garden issued its own statement: “Despite non-credible threats called in during tonight’s screening, we followed appropriate safety protocols in collaboration with the NYPD and elected to postpone the event. We stand by the creative women bringing these heroic stories to light.” Whoever attempted to prevent the doc from being shown, Drea says their plan has backfired: “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.”