The Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation is caught in yet another financial scandal.
A lawsuit filed on Thursday alleges that the group’s leader, Shalomyah Bowers, has stolen more than $10 million in donations from the organization.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the suit, filed by Black Lives Matter Grassroots, claimed, “While BLM leaders and movement workers were on the streets risking their lives, Mr. Bowers remained in his cushy offices devising a scheme of fraud and misrepresentation to break the implied-in-fact contract between donors and BLM.”
BLM Grassroots, an umbrella organization representing all of the local chapters of BLM, is responsible for the distribution of funds raised by the BLM Global Network Foundation, which serves in an administrative capacity, according to the Times.
Bowers’ reported use of BLM funds as a “personal piggy bank” led to investigations into the global foundation from both the Internal Revenue Service and a number of state attorney generals.
Bowers has denied any and all wrongdoing, the Times reported.
In a joint statement, the Black Lives Matter Global Network board of directors accused Bowers of following the footsteps of their alleged “white oppressors.”
“They would rather take the same steps of our white oppressors and utilize the criminal legal system which is propped up by white supremacy (the same system they say they want to dismantle) to solve movement disputes,” the board of directors said, according to the Times.
Since BLM began raking in millions of dollars — as much as $90 million after the death of George Floyd in 2020, according to the Times — the group has faced intense scrutiny over the lack of transparency regarding where the money was being distributed.
In April, Sean Campbell of New York Magazine alleged leaders of the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation used donations to buy a $6 million house in Los Angeles that they identified as “Campus.”
At first, leaders said the house was meant to be a creative space for BLMGNF. Later, they changed their tune and said it was designed as a “safehouse” for leaders to go to when they faced alleged violent threats.
The house was purchased in October 2020, but BLMGNF had not disclosed the purchase when Campbell published his article in April. They said they had planned to disclose it in May 2022, well after the initial purchase.
Less than a month before that report, Charity Watch accused BLMGNF of concealing its financial information.
“It is extremely concerning that the national public charity entity of arguably the largest social justice movement in the United States has not done a better job of communicating its financial activities to the public in a timely manner or of adequately addressing other questions related to its governance,” Charity Watch wrote.
At the time, Amazon had already removed the organization from its charity platform, and five states had barred BLMGNF from fundraising.
Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors resigned from her position as executive director of BLMGNF after multiple allegations that she misused donated funds, the New York Post reported.
The aforementioned $6 million LA house was one of the purchases that called Cullors’ intentions into question. She said the reason BLMGNF did not disclose the purpose of the property was because they feared backlash from the right.
“The minute we shared the information with the public … the right-wing media would do what they always do and they always did,” Cullors told the Post. “Because the right-wing media doesn’t have any sense or care for people’s security or safety.”
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