Mayor Bill de Blasio was recorded flapping his arms to a version of R. Kelly’s “I Believe I Can Fly” while visiting a church in South Carolina on Sunday morning.
An 18-second video shows de Blasio standing on the left side of the chapel as a female singer belts out the refrain of the late 1990s hit by the since-disgraced R&B superstar.
The mayor moves his arms from front to back, then holds them out by his side and waves them up and down before clasping his hands.
“I wonder if the @NYCMayor realizes who sings this song,” tweeted NY1 reporter Courtney Gross, who also posted the clip. The video shows a sizeable number of churchgoers remaining seated, despite the encouragement of their pastor, whose gestures appear to urge the congregation to stand up and join in.
Kelly was indicted last month in Chicago on ten counts of aggravated sexual abuse against four underage victims between 1998 and 2010.
The charges came after lawyer Michael Avenatti gave prosecutors a videocassette that Avenatti said shows Kelly engaging in multiple sex acts with a 14-year-old girl.
In an email, de Blasio spokesman Eric Phillips said: “The Mayor wasn’t the church’s DJ and he certainly can’t be expected to recognize every R. Kelly track.”
De Blasio’s arm flapping evoked imagery from critics who’ve likened the 6-foot-5 pol to various avian characters.
During the mayor’s 2017 re-election campaign, challenger Bo Dietl repeatedly derided him as “Big Bird,” while a 2015 profile in The Atlantic magazine said his “hooded eyes and dour countenance” was reminiscent of “Sam the Eagle, the Muppets’ harrumphing, censorious patriot.”
The charges came after lawyer Michael Avenatti gave prosecutors a videocassette that reportedly shows him engaging in sex acts with a self-described, 14-year-old girl.
De Blasio was visiting South Carolina, which holds a key presidential primary election, as he flirts with the possibility of a 2020 White House bid.
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