Screenshot of Fox Business YouTube video (Left: D'Zhane Parker, | Center: Cicley Gay | Right: Shalomyah Bowers in 2022)
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New financial statements from Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation indicate that the group is running a tremendous deficit as donations dwindle but board members continue to invest in pricey consulting firms and expensive properties in the U.S. and Canada.
BLM became a household name in 2014 after the death of Michael Brown, a black teen, and the subsequent race riots that erupted in Ferguson, Missouri. However, interest in the nonprofit skyrocketed in 2020 following the death of George Floyd. After that, donations began pouring in to BLM coffers, and the group finished that year with more than $90 million in cash. It was then that BLM officially transitioned to BLMGNF, which promised to create reliable group infrastructure that could better manage the influx of cash.
"No one expected the foundation to grow at this pace and to this scale," said Cicley Gay, who joined the BLMGNF board last June. "Now, we are taking time to build efficient infrastructure to run the largest Black, abolitionist, philanthropic organization to ever exist in the United States."
Gay and two others were reportedly invited to join the board in June 2022 to sort out the group's finances and to usher in a new era of transparency after foundress Patrisse Cullors resigned in May 2021 amid accusations that she had misused group funds for personal expenses. However, Gay has struggled with her own finances, declaring bankruptcy three times since 2005 and most recently in 2016. When she was appointed to the board, she was still more than $120,000 in debt.
Gay may be a potential financial liability, but that might not matter much, as BLM no longer enjoys the problem of raking in more donations than its leaders can handle. According to its tax filings, BLM raised just $9.3 million in 2022, a staggering 88% drop from 2021.
And a closer inspection of the group's expenditures explains why BLM still struggles to manage what little money it now collects. In 2022 alone, BLM gave approximately $3.4 million to different "consulting" firms that happened to be affiliated with Patrisse Cullors' friends and family. The group paid $1.7 million to Bowers Consulting, owned by Cullors' successor, Shalomyah Bowers. It gave $1.1 million to a firm owned by Danielle Edwards, the sister of former board member Raymond Howard, and it gave an additional $600,000 to a firm owned by an unidentified board member to sort out "a contract dispute."
That year, two companies run by Paul Cullors, brother of Patrisse, received a total of $1.6 million to provide "professional security services" to BLM. As "head of security," Paul Cullors, one of just two paid BLM employees that year, earned a salary of $126,000 plus other "consulting" fees.
The group's finances have been so lavishly appropriated to those within the leadership's inner circles that Paul Kamenar, an attorney for the National Legal and Policy Center watchdog group, quipped, "While Patrisse Cullors was forced to resign due to charges of using BLM's funds for her personal use, it looks like she's still keeping it all in the family."
In addition to its extraordinary "consulting" and security expenditures, BLM has also amassed several large properties in the U.S. and Canada that have drained millions from its treasury. In May 2022, BLM revealed that it had spent $6.3 million of an $8 million grant on a giant estate in Toronto. The "out of country" grant money was earmarked for "activities to educate and support black communities, and to purchase and renovate property for charitable use," so BLM has since claimed that the Toronto estate, originally billed to be BLM's Canadian headquarters, will be used as the Wilseed Center for Arts and Activism.
Finally, BLM's tax documents revealed that the group took nearly a $1 million hit on a securities sale in 2022. It has also spent more than two-thirds of the $90 million in collected in 2020. According to the Washington Free Beacon, BLM did not respond to requests for comment.
"We know narratives like this cause harm to organizers doing brilliant work across the country and these reports do not reflect the totality of the movement," the group wrote in a lengthy tweet thread in April 2022. "We apologize for the distress this has caused to our supporters and those who work in service of Black liberation daily."
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Sr. Editor, News
Cortney Weil is a senior editor for Blaze News.