The leader of the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation, Shalomyah Bowers, was accused of stealing over $10 million from the organization in a lawsuit filed Thursday by Black Lives Matter Grassroots.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the lawsuit was announced at a news conference by Black Lives Matter-Los Angeles co-founder Melina Abdullah who said Bowers was a "rogue administrator, a middle man turned usurper" and used the organization as a "personal piggy bank."
Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation, the nonprofit parent organization of Black Lives Matter Grassroots, is responsible for the financial management of donations and money distribution to the operating BLM groups. The infighting between the official BLM groups stems from recent and more transparent scrutiny over corruption within the organization.
The suit, filed by attorney Walter Mosley, places blame of the increased scrutiny, especially from the IRS, at the feet of Bowers and said his actions were "blazing a path of irreparable harm to BLM in less than eighteen months."
Bowers, who is one of three directors on the board of the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation, shot back with a joint statement that read, "They [Black Lives Matter Grassroots] 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."
Bowers said Abdullah committed "financial malfeasance," Abdullah said Bowers shut her out of BLM accounts by changing passwords, and Mosley demanded Bowers return money and "stop impersonating Black Lives Matter."
The Black Lives Matter Global Network is the official parent organization of all of BLM, including Black Lives Matter Grassroots, and it raised over $90 million during the later half of 2020.
However, the company distributed $21.7 million in grants and spent another $8.4 million to close the year with a balance of $60 million. Bowers was hired by Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors in 2020.
On February 2, the organization reportedly shut down its online fundraising after California and Washington made legal threats against the organization for failing to report what it did with that money. California Attorney General Rob Bonta issued a letter to the organization warning that "the organization BLACK LIVES MATTER GLOBAL NETWORK FOUNDATION, INC. is delinquent with The Registry of Charitable Trusts for failing to submit required annual report(s)" for the 2020 tax year.
In February, corporations such as Amazon stopped donating to the Black Lives Matter Global Network amidst growing evidence of corruption. In response BLM founder Patrisse Cullors said, "people have to know we didn't go out and solicit the money. This is money that came from white guilt, white corporation guilt, and they just poured money in."
In May 2021, Patrisse Cullors stepped down from the BLM organization after a real-estate scandal emerged revealing she spent $3.2 million on four different homes. Soon after more reports started to emerge of Black Lives Matter leadership using company funds for personal luxury.
In March, two Boston BLM leaders were charged in an 18-count federal indictment concerning three separate schemes: defrauding donors, illegally collecting about $100,000 in pandemic unemployment benefits, and lying on a mortgage application.
In April reports emerged that Cullors and BLM leadership bought a $6 million property and circuitously moved money around a litany of LLCs in order to hide the transaction.
The same month, Cullors described the routine, basic form 990 tax document non-profits must fill out as 'unsafe.'
"This doesn't seem safe for us, this 990 structure — this nonprofit system structure," Cullors said. "This is, like, deeply unsafe. This is being literally weaponized against us, against the people we work with."
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