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The Black Lives Matter leader is accused of stealing $10 million from the organization

A prominent leader of the Black Lives Matter movement has been accused of stealing more than $10 million from the group in a explosive lawsuit filed by other organizers of the movement.

Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation (BLMGNF) board member Shalomyah Bowers has been accused of using the group as a “personal piggy bank” in the lawsuit filed in Los Angeles on Thursday.

The lawsuit, filed by Black Lives Matter Grassroots (BLMGR), provides few details about the alleged money theft but sheds light on the growing fractures in the movement, which raised more than $90 million in donations in 2020.

In a lengthy statement, the BLMGFN board angrily denounced the allegations as “damaging, divisive and false” and accused BLMGR leaders of lining their own pockets with “$10,000 in monthly stipends” instead of supporting local groups and families.

A new lawsuit accuses BLMGF board member Shalomyah Bowers of stealing $10 million in donations, allegations the board angrily denies

A new lawsuit accuses BLMGF board member Shalomyah Bowers of stealing $10 million in donations, allegations the board angrily denies

At a news conference on Thursday, BLMGR leader Melina Abdullah slammed the BLMGNF, saying the group had lost touch with the movement's grassroots

At a news conference on Thursday, BLMGR leader Melina Abdullah slammed the BLMGNF, saying the group had lost touch with the movement’s grassroots

BLMGFN is the national fundraising arm of the movement and distributes funds to local groups through BLMGR, which serves as the umbrella organization for many local groups.

Each side in the dispute accuses the other of harming the BLM movement and acting as a tool of white supremacy.

BLMGNF has been under financial scrutiny for some time, and disclosures in May revealed the group had spent $6 million on a Los Angeles mansion and $6.3 million on another 10,000-square-foot lot in Toronto.

Concerns over tax issues also led to the resignation of co-founder Patrisse Cullors, who denied any wrongdoing.

Cullors admitted the group was ill-prepared to handle the tsunami of donations that poured in as it rose to international prominence following the May 2020 killing of George Floyd.

Bowers, the board member named in the new lawsuit, was hired by Cullors in 2020 to help raise funds and oversee distribution, and as one of the three board members, she has played a key oversight role since stepping down last year

The lawsuit names Bowers a “rogue administrator, a middleman-turned-usurper” whose own consulting firm was paid $2 million by BLMGNF in 2020.

“While BLM leaders and movement workers were on the streets risking their lives, Mr. Bowers stayed in his cozy offices and devised a fraud and misrepresentation plan to breach the implicit contract between donors and BLM,” the statement said Legal action.

BLMGFN board members D'Zhane Parker (left), Cicley Gay (centre) and Shalomyah Bowers are seen in May

BLMGFN board members D’Zhane Parker (left), Cicley Gay (centre) and Shalomyah Bowers are seen in May

hold protesters "Black Lives Matter" Signs outside the US District Courthouse in St. Paul, Minnesota on February 24, 2022

Protesters hold ‘Black Lives Matter’ signs outside the U.S. District Courthouse in St. Paul, Minnesota, on February 24, 2022.

At a news conference on Thursday, BLMGR leader Melina Abdullah slammed the BLMGNF, saying the group had lost touch with the movement’s grassroots.

“The Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation has been taken away from the people who built it,” she said. “The Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation is now led by a highly paid advisor who has raised more than $2 million in a single year.”

BLMGNF fired back, saying that Abdullah and BLMGR were “victims of the prison logic and social violence that drives the justice system.”

The statement added that “they would rather take the same steps as our white oppressors and use the criminal justice system backed by white supremacism (the same system they say they want to dismantle) to settle disputes among the to solve movement.”

In May, the BLMGFN filed its first public financial disclosure, a 63-page Form 990, reporting that it received $90 million in donations in 2020.

Cullors (pictured April 2022) resigned as chief executive of the organization amid controversy over its $3 million real estate portfolio

Cullors (pictured April 2022) resigned as chief executive of the organization amid controversy over its $3 million real estate portfolio

It ended its most recent fiscal year – from July 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021 – with a net worth of nearly $42 million. The foundation had an operating budget of about $4 million, a board member told AP at the time.

The tax return shows that nearly $6 million was spent on a Los Angeles-area property.

The Studio City property, which includes a six-bedroom, six-bathroom home, swimming pool, sound stage and office space, was intended as a campus for a black artists’ grant and is currently being used for that purpose, the board member said.

It was the BLM Foundation’s first public accounting since its inception in 2017.

As a fledgling nonprofit, it was under the tax umbrella of an established charity and was not required to publicly disclose its finances until December 2020, when it became an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-11176931/Black-Lives-Matter-leader-accused-pilfering-10M-organization.html?ns_mchannel=rss&ns_campaign=1490&ito=1490 The Black Lives Matter leader is accused of stealing $10 million from the organization

Andrew Kugle

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