R. Kelly Trial: Fans vs. Foes

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They arrived on the first day of R. Kelly’s child pornography trial at about 8 a.m. ready to let the world know how they felt, but they were outnumbered by their opposition.

Armed with poster board signs stating that the Chicago-born music superstar is the “World’s Greatest Pedophile” and “Danger R. Kelly pedophile alert!” Najee Ali repeatedly shouted in front of the Cook County Criminal Courts building May 9 that Robert Kelly was guilty and was going to jail, as another protester shouted the same through a megaphone. A swarm of about 15 fans of the R&B singer matched Ali’s shouts with their own.

The vocal onslaught continued until after Kelly arrived for court, about 9:45 a.m. Jerhonda Johnson, an 18-year-old Streamwood resident, told Ali and other protestors that Kelly was innocent and prosecutors “don’t have a case.” Ali said he was compelled to protest because he is a father of two, including a 19-year-old daughter%uFFFD who was 13 years old when the infamous videotape, that is the hub of the prosecution’s case against the 41-year-old singer, was thrust in the media six years ago. Kelly is charged with allegedly videotaping himself about eight to 10 years ago having sex with an underaged girl.

The alleged victim, who would now be 23 years old, said it is not her in the videotape. “As a father, if it happened to my daughter, I would not blame her; she’s a child. He (Kelly) knows right from wrong. He is a grown man and should not have done it,” Ali, 45, said in an exchange with another fan of the superstar.

The celebrity’s admirer said she saw the video, does not believe that it is Kelly in it and is confident that he will be found not guilty. She also stated that the alleged victim was fully aware of what she was doing. “She consented and wanted it. She was doing adult stuff in the video,” said Betty Harris, a 24-year-old West Side resident. Ali countered.

“Young people may not have the conviction or courage to come forward if they’ve been sexually abused,” he said. Another fan weighed in, a bit quieter, and said he also saw the video but it was too hard to tell whether or not Kelly was one of the people featured. Instead of speculating about Kelly’s guilt or innocence, the fan would leave that decision to a higher power. “Only God can judge him,” 29- year-old Clarence Medlock of Calumet City said.

______ Copyright 2008 Chicago Defender. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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