LONDON — The divisive Michael Jackson documentary “Leaving Neverland” might not have aired in the United Kingdom yet, but that did not stop die-hard fans of the late singer from standing on the streets of London to protest his innocence on Wednesday.
Gathering outside the headquarters of British TV network Channel 4, the channel on which the documentary will be aired Wednesday and Thursday, a group of fans clutched photos and chanted in unison: “Facts don’t lie, people do."
A few were dressed as Jackson, wearing sunglasses and sequined hats. Others held signs that read “Michael Jackson Innocent” and “More records than any other artist, son, husband, father.”
The HBO documentary aired in the United States earlier this week, triggering widespread controversy. In the documentary, Wade Robson and Jimmy Safechuck allege they were befriended and later abused by Jackson throughout the late 1980s and early 1990s. They say the abuse continued into their teenage years, and the emotional legacy has never faded.
In response to the allegations detailed in the two-part documentary, a number of radio stations outside the United States pulled Jackson’s music from their playlists this week. In Canada, at least three major stations removed his songs, starting Monday.
According to CNN, multiple radio stations in New Zealand will no longer be playing Jackson’s music. Dean Buchanan, group director of entertainment at broadcaster NZME said: “NZME station playlists change from week to week and right now Michael Jackson does not feature on them.”
In Manchester, England, a seven-foot statue of Jackson has been removed form the National Football Museum — although a representative for the museum said the removal of the statue had been planned “for a number of months.”
While Jackson’s estate has strengthened financially in the years since his debt, the backlash against the recent HBO documentary threatens to destroy his legacy, once and for all. Jackson’s estate filed a lawsuit last month against HBO, stating: “Michael Jackson is innocent. Period.”