A sordid fight over money between Black Lives Matter factions


On September 1, 26 Black Lives Matter Grassroots chapters filed a court case in Los Angeles County Superior Court accusing the top executive of the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation (BLMGNF) of illegally “siphoning off” $10 million in donations.

In addition to denunciations of much of the BLMGNF leadership, the suit accuses Shalomyah Bowers, the head of the BLMGNF, and his consulting firm Bowers of embezzling millions of dollars from the coffers of the BLM, using the organization as his own “personal piggy bank”.

The day after the lawsuit was filed, Melina Abdullah, co-founder of the BLM Los Angeles Chapter and co-director of BLM Grassroots, held a press conference announcing the lawsuit, during which she claimed that Bowers was paying herself more than 2 million dollars per year. .

After Abdullah’s press conference, the BLMGNF Board issued an official statement statement denying the allegations against Bowers and other executives and calling the lawsuit “a new round of ‘control’ struggles” at BLM. He called the allegations “libelous and devoid of reality”.

The board filed counterclaims against Abdullah and other BLM Grassroots leaders, alleging they took $10,000 a month in personal allowances, went on a secret retreat to Jamaica, and docked the salaries of BLM officers forced to take leave because they or a family member had contracted COVID-19.

The BLMGNF statement includes excerpts from a January 2022 letter from BLM Grassroots executives detailing “countless allegations of financial malpractice by Melina Abdullah, unprincipled decision-making and a leadership style rooted in retribution and l ‘intimidation”.

The controversy surrounding the lawsuit is just the latest in a long line of scandals involving BLM finances. Amid grassroots protests over the brutal killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police in 2020, corporate media and the Democratic Party promoted Black Lives Matter and its leaders as the official voice for the millions of people of all races and ethnicities who were protesting. against police brutality. This promotion was accompanied by official endorsements and large cash donations from US companies to BLM.

Families of victims of police brutality and many local activists, however, were quick to question BLM’s financial secrecy:

  • Three months after 10 local BLM chapters issued a November 2020 statement demanding greater financial accountability from BLMGNF trustees, the organization has released information about its finances for the first time. He reported that BLMGNF raised more than $90 million in 2020, committed $8.4 million in operating expenses, distributed $21.7 million in grants to more than 30 organizations, and retained some $60 million.

  • In March 2021, Lisa Simpson, mother of 18-year-old Richard Risher, killed by Los Angeles police in 2016, and Samaria Rice, mother of 12-year-old Tamir Rice, killed by Cleveland police in 2014, published a statement demanding that BLMGNF stop exploiting the deaths of their children to make money.
    They wrote, “We don’t want or need you marching through the streets racking up donations, platforms, movie deals, etc. as our loved ones die, while families and communities are left clueless and broken. Do not say the names of our loved ones, period! This is our truth!

  • In April 2021, the New York Post revealed that Black Lives Matter co-founder and nominal director Patrisse Cullors and his wife purchased four properties worth approximately $3 million between 2016 and 2021. Less than two months after the news broke went public, Cullors resigned as executive director of BLMGNF, saying she wanted to focus on other projects, including books and a production deal with Warner Bros.

  • In April 2022, a New York magazine report revealed that BLMGNF purchased a $6 million luxury home in Southern California through donations. According to the report, BLMGNF purchased the 6,500 square foot property, with seven bedrooms and bathrooms, a soundstage and music studio, a swimming pool and parking for nearly 20 cars, in October 2020 to serve as ” refuge “. and BLM’s executive headquarters to create social media content. In June 2021, Patrisse Cullors, Alicia Garza and Melina Abdullah recorded a video outside the mansion to mark the one year anniversary of the murder of George Floyd.

  • In May 2022, the Associated Press released tax documents showing that BLMGNF paid millions to entities controlled by relatives and close associates of then-executive director Cullors. BLM paid out $25,997,945 in grants, including $2,167,890 to the Bowers Consulting Firm, owned by Shalomyah Bowers.

  • Melina Abdullah, professor of Pan-African studies at California State University Los Angeles and co-founder of Black Lives Matter LA, was featured in a Levi’s Jeans “Beauty of Becoming” marketing campaign, despite news that the Levi’s entrepreneur worked to kill minimum wage in Haiti.

With each revelation, the fraudulent nature of Black Lives Matter has become increasingly clear. The organization has lost credibility with millions of Americans who had previously supported BLM under the impression that those at the helm were sincere about the fight against police brutality. The parasitic layers of management were sent into crisis, prompting Cullors to step down as executive director in June 2021. Since then, virtually every reporting on Black Lives Matter has involved scandal.

According to the lawsuit filed by Black Lives Matter Grassroots, Bowers was originally hired by Cullors to help lead BLMGNF in 2020. Melina Abdullah claims that when Cullors decided to step down as chief executive of BLMGNF, she left Bowers with a plan. transition to pass the baton. control of the BLMGNF to the leadership of the BLM Grassroots.

According to the lawsuit, Cullors appointed two BLM members, Monifa Bandele and Makani Themba, as co-senior staff to oversee the transition, while Bowers remained in his administrative role. But Bowers reportedly did not follow Cullors’ transition plan and BLM Grassroots was denied access to BLMGNF’s social media accounts.

“This is the case of a rogue administrator, a middleman, turned usurper, who was hired to collect donations and account for the expenses of the Black Lives Matter movement,” the lawsuit states.

While claiming that Bowers views BLMGNF as his personal “piggy bank,” the suit further alleges that Bowers’ activities were the catalyst for the series of fraud investigations launched by state and federal authorities into BLMDNF’s finances, who, according to BLM Grassroots, opened “a path of irreparable harm to BLM in less than eighteen months.

As part of its counterclaims against Abdullah and BLM Grassroots, BLMGNF cited letters BLM Grassroots allegedly sent in January about concerns about Abdullah’s leadership.

A complaint alleging Abdullah’s mismanagement of a $7 million budget reads:

“I write to you today with serious concerns regarding the management and operations of Black Lives Matter Grassroots…I am of the opinion that the Black Lives Matter Grassroots team, of which I am a part, is currently ill-equipped to leading and managing a multi-million dollar organization.

In an article on the multiple financial scandals of the BLM, the World Socialist Website explained the true character of the organization:

The facts that have emerged demonstrate that Black Lives Matter is largely a creation of the corporate media and the Democratic Party, and not a genuine expression of popular insurgent opposition to the pervasive brutality and social inequality of society. American. The revelations illustrate the venal and privileged social strata whose interests are expressed in the elevation of race, rather than class, as the essential dividing line in society.

Beyond exposing the venal and selfish character of the BLM leadership, the latest allegations lay bare the reactionary nature of race politics and the right-wing social interests it serves. For all their talk of the “struggle for black liberation,” the layers behind BLM have nothing in common with – and are hostile to – the masses of workers and young people of all races entering the struggle against capitalism.


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