The debate simmered outside R. Kelly's child pornography trial last week. Fans fiercely defended the popular R&B singer, while a handful of detractors railed at him and fumed at the supporters.
Their opposing views of Kelly—as either a star wrongly accused or a sex criminal—mirrored a debate that has resurfaced in the black community, where Kelly's fame, the grave nature of the charges against him, and larger questions about celebrity, sex and race have put some onlookers at odds before the evidence is even heard.
“R. Kelly is a pedophile. Lock him up,” Dwight Taylor of Gary chanted into a bullhorn, riling the crowd of about 30 or so people who had gathered to watch Kelly make his entrance into the Cook County Criminal Courts Building.
“Free R. Kelly!” some of his supporters shot back. continue reading