Last year, you could barely turn on the TV without hearing some reference to the Black Lives Matter campaign. Even prominent video games jumped on the bandwagon, with FIFA 2021 updating the game with a propaganda statement about BLM popping up and surreal virtual protests organized in children’s games like Animal Crossing.
Of course, the organization first came to international prominence after months of rioting, looting, and violence across America following the murder of the convicted black criminal George Floyd by a police officer in Minneapolis in 2020. Copycat protests proceeded to spring up across the Western world, with thousands of campaigners in the world’s major cities sporting BLM placards.
With all that attention the world over, it’s no wonder BLM, which is a registered charity, has built up a stash of donations apparently amounting to over 60 million dollars. Who oversees that money remains a mystery.
According to an investigation by the Washington Examiner, the most recent tax filing for BLM in 2019 used a Los Angeles address that is non-existent and despite registering as a charity in 2020, the group still has not provided its latest tax return. This is a legal requirement and could see them fined by the IRS.
The Washington Examiner also reported that the people who were announced to be taking over the control of the group’s money didn’t ever take up the positions.
Executive director of charity watch Laurie Styron expressed her concerns:
“Like a giant ghost ship full of treasure drifting in the night with no captain, no discernible crew, and no clear direction”.
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The National Legal and Policy Center’s counsel member Paul Kamenar said the situation was “grossly irregular”.
The latest concerns about the charity’s financial management come after the controversy surrounding BLM’s co-founder and executive director Patrisse Cullors, who resigned in May, 2021, following mass scrutiny over her $3.1 million dollar property empire.
Cullors owned four properties, three in Los Angeles and one in Atlanta.
After Cullor’s resignation, she announced two predecessors would be taking her place as executive directors – Makani Themba and Monifa Bandeli. Neither of the two ever took the positions.
The Washington Examiner report states that the two remaining on the board were Shalomyah Bowers and Raymond Howard. The report went on to reveal that Bowers had previously acted as treasurer for other activist groups headed by Cullors, including a jail reform group based in Los Angeles which dished out a hefty $20,000 a month to Cullors and spent $26,000 on “meetings” at a luxury Malibu resort in 2019.
While BLM has never revealed the identity of its major donors, in February, 2021, it shared the information that the group raked in $90 million throughout 2020, $30 million of which reportedly was sent to a “partner group”.
On its official website www.blacklivesmatter.com, BLM shamelessly talks about a “survival fund’’ to “support black people and their families facing economic hardship during the pandemic”.
Surely as a registered charity, the group owes it to the many well-meaning supporters and donors to strive for far more economic and structural transparency? Thus far, we’re yet to see such progress. The mystery continues.