Though prosecutors are waiting until after Thanksgiving to file formal charges against Michael Jackson, fans and friends of the singer are wasting no time in rushing to his defense.
On Saturday, two days after Jackson was arrested for child molestation in Santa Barbara, California (see "Michael Jackson Surrenders To Santa Barbara Police"), supporters in various cities around the world gathered to protest the allegations.
Assemblies of up to 60 or so Jackson admirers gathered at his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, on the Champs-Élysées in Paris and at the Spanish Steps in Rome, along with locations in other cities, where fans sang his songs and chanted "Michael's innocent!" (Click for photos of fans in Hollywood, New York and Las Vegas.)
Also over the weekend, actress Elizabeth Taylor released a statement supporting her longtime friend. "I believe Michael is innocent and that he will be vindicated," she said.
Taylor, who has her own shrine at Neverland where her movies are played 24 hours a day, also addressed the media coverage surrounding Jackson's arrest. "I believed that the law was 'innocent until proven guilty.' I know he is innocent, and I hope they all eat crow."
Frustrated with the press, Taylor refuses to be interviewed by the many reporters who've been scrambling to talk to anyone associated with Jackson, from family lawyers to celebrity friends, since the charges were announced Wednesday (see "Authorities Discuss Allegations Against Michael Jackson").
In response, Jackson launched a Web site, www.mjnews.us, to clear up any confusion about just what the official communications from his camp are.
"You are right to be skeptical of some of the individuals who are being identified in the mass media as my friends, spokespeople and attorneys," the singer wrote in a letter to fans, friends and family on the site. "With few exceptions, most of them are simply filling a desperate void in our culture that equates visibility with insight."
Jackson called the charges a "big lie" but said he was limited in what he could say about the situation. "There are times when I cannot comment at all," he wrote. "No doubt, this will be frustrating for all of us. For that reason, I have set up this Web site. ... Any statement that does not appear on this Web site must be considered unauthorized."
Don't expect frequent updates to the site, though. "We will not provide running commentary on every new development or allegation du jour," he wrote. "We intend to try our case in the courtroom, not in the public or the media."
Jackson has reportedly been in Las Vegas since flying there after his booking on Thursday, although his lawyer, Mark Geragos, told the Los Angeles Times he planned to meet with Jackson at Neverland on Saturday.
For full coverage of the Michael Jackson case, see "Michael Jackson Accused."