It appears that with each passing day, the leaders of the Black Lives Matter movement decline to offer apologies to donors, activists, police officers, and the public for the multiple controversies plaguing the national organization.
The New York Magazine, which is far from a moderate or conservative news outlet, broke the news that the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation used donor funds to buy a southern California home for $6 million.
Yet BLM leaders denied that they were misusing donation funds and claimed that these news reports were campaigns of “misinformation and disinformation.” But the same leaders could not debunk the reports’ veracity and resorted to generic claims of persecution directly to reporters at a closed roundtable.
The report said that the 6,500 square-foot home was purchased in secret. The house has over six bedrooms and bathrooms, multiple fireplaces, a pool and bungalow, a soundstage, and parking for about 20 cars. Apparently, in an effort to hide the existence of the purchase, leaders called the house the “Campus.”
None of the affiliate or state chapter groups were told about the purchase, despite BLM’s insistence that it is transparent with all of its activists.
Activists have complained for several years about the lack of transparency from BLM and its national leaders. For example, BLM announced a grant funding program for state chapters, but the state chapters did not hear about it until the media asked for comment on it.
For example, BLM issued a statement that said the organization donated $3 million to families affected by the coronavirus pandemic and over $25 million to “Black-led front-line” organizations around the globe. It also launched a $6.5 million BLM Grassroots fund, which was meant to be a grantmaking fund for local and state chapters. But the local and state activists did not know about the grassroots fund until later.
Patrisse Cullors-Khan, the co-founder and former executive director of the national foundation arm, said, “Almost immediately upon closing, the attacks on me, and BLM, which also means Melina and others, escalated.” She added, “So we did use the campus as a haven, as a safe place. That derailed an announcement strategy. Conditions changed, and that’s it.”
Cullors told reporters that she stayed at the posh home for four days while the FBI investigated a death threat against her. Though she and other national BLM figures said that the purchase was legitimate, BLM continues to have many unanswered questions about its finances.
Contrary to Cullors’s assertions and claims, the home purchase with donated funds likely violates U.S. non-profit and charity laws. Donations are authorized for operating costs, such as salaries and regular office expenses, but it does not cover the purchase of a multi-million-dollar home for the personal use of board members of a charity or non-profit organization even under a loose interpretation of the laws.
She is not without controversy, though. Cullors was appointed as the organization’s executive director in July 2020, but resigned in May 2021 over a house-buying controversy. Cullors purchased 4 properties across the country, totaling $3.2 million, which sparked criticism that she may have used donor funds to make these real estate deals.
Publicly, Cullors said that she had not been paid by BLM for several years, which BLM confirmed to the media. Yet it does not add up; how did Cullors find $3.2 million to purchase 4 properties across the country? She claimed that her deal with Warner Brothers studio to produce content, in addition to gigs as a performance artist and author, were her sources of income.
When asked about BLM’s budget and misuse of donations, Cullors said, “It just isn’t true. Our largest donor base, previous to me resigning, was always small dollar donors.” She claimed, “It’s just not true that millions were poured in. At most, our budget was at $1.4 [million].”
Known Marxist activist, Angela Davis, defended BLM at the event and said that the ongoing criticisms are “attacks to discredit the movement.”
Still, BLM has not filed the proper tax paperwork required of non-profit charity organizations in multiple states and at the federal level. There is no transparency on where its 2020 donation haul of $90 million went. Instead, it has turned over its finances to Clinton ally Marc Elias, whose firm promptly changed its fiscal year dates to apparently delay filing its annual tax reports with the state and federal governments.