BLM Finances And Leadership Are A Mystery: 5 Quotes From Experts In Nonprofit Industrial Complex

BLM Finances And Leadership Are A Mystery: 5 Quotes From Experts In Nonprofit Industrial Complex


Photo: Protestors demonstrate during the Derek Chauvin trial, March 29, 2021 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Photo: Chris Tuite/ImageSPACE/MediaPunch /IPX

Black Lives Matter may have garnered worldwide attention during protests against police brutality including the May 2020 police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, but there remain questions about the organization’s leadership and finances. For many, BLM is shrouded in mystery.

The organization raked in $90 million in 2020 alone, yet many of the chapters around the country complained that they never got financial assistance in running their branches. Meanwhile, co-founder Patrisse Cullors was left to explain a real estate shopping spree. The other two BLM co-founders, Alicia Garza and Opal Tometi, left long before the financial chaos. After BLM came under scrutiny, Cullors also resigned. 

There are investigations underway into the Black Lives Matter financial mess.

California’s Department of Justice is pursuing BLM over its murky finances and has warned the group’s “shadowy leadership that it will be ‘personally liable’ for any fees or fines,” The New York Post reported.

California Attorney General Rob Bonta issued a formal warning to BLM on Jan. 31, according to a letter shared by the Washington Examiner.

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“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),” the letter stated. “An organization that is delinquent, suspended or revoked is not in good standing and is prohibited from engaging in conduct for which registration is required, including soliciting or disbursing charitable funds.”

Money wasn’t the only issue at BLM. During her tenure, leader Cullors brushed off grassroots organizations that tried to work with BLM. 

“We want to make it abundantly clear that Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation and the Black Lives Matter Grassroots do not support counter-protesting,” BLM told the groups.

Black Lives Matter’s financial tangle and leadership have some wondering if BLM is part of the nonprofit industrial complex or NPIC. The NPIC is defined as “a system of relationships between the State (or local and federal governments), the owning classes, foundations, and nonprofit/NGO social service & social justice organizations that results in the surveillance, control, derailment, and everyday management of political movements,” according to radical feminist organization Incite. Incite members are Black women and women of color.

The founders of Black Lives Matter “are all likely assets of the united states government intelligence apparatus. All of them created ‘organizational fronts’ to steal money from the masses of people. And they directed rebellions all into the neo-liberal establishment,” tweeted @Abbas_Muntaqim.

Here are five quotes related to the nonprofit industrial complex (NPIC).

1. Corporate money taints movements

Dr. Kwasi Konadu, a professor of African history at Colgate University, told New York Magazine that corporate money has fueled local activists’ distrust of national civil-rights groups for decades. “The funding has a way of managing the direction and even the leadership of these movements, and Black Lives Matter is no different,” Konadu said. “They’re trying to sell people that freedom is easy. You see? You can’t sell police predation and violence as easy.”

2. Lack of leadership and transparency

This is how Laurie Styron, executive director of CharityWatch, described Black Lives Matter in a Daily Mail interview: “Like a giant ghost ship full of treasure drifting in the night with no captain, no discernible crew, and no clear direction.”

Formerly known as the American Institute of Philanthropy, CharityWatch is a 501 nonprofit in Chicago that provides information about charities’ financial efficiency, accountability, governance, and fundraising.

3. Radical transparency

Groups are best off practicing “radical transparency” before they come under intense scrutiny and have experienced public conflict, said Kevin Scally, an executive at Charity Navigator, an organization that assesses nonprofits.

Through radical transparency, leaders of companies and organizations have to open themselves to oversight, Scally told New York Magazine.

When nonprofits and their finances come into question because of lack of transparency, that usually opens a flood of information. When people continued to ask BLM publicly where the millions of dollars in donations went, Cullors released documents, talked to the media and gave details of how she paid for a real estate spending spree. Still, there were many questions that remained about BLM finances.

4. BLM: ‘Inflated sense of self-importance’

Justin Hansford, a law professor at Howard University and the executive director of the Thurgood Marshall Civil Rights Center, talked about the attitude he saw in BLM leaders. “They tell a story that makes it seem like the creation of their hashtag was the start of the movement,” Hansford told New York Magazine. “I don’t think they have directly told lies about their role, but they have a really inflated sense of self-importance in terms of the movement.”

He added, “Imagine that during the civil-rights movement you had the SCLC, you had the NAACP, you had the Urban League — and imagine some group just called themselves Civil Rights Movement, Inc.”

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5.  Hashtagging, not protesting

Keyanna Celina, a longtime organizer, met Cullors following the 2012 death of Black teen Trayvon Martin, who was killed in Florida by neighborhood vigilante George Zimmerman. Cullors and others created a protest group called Justice4Trayvon.

“She was not talking logistics about what we were going to be doing out in the streets,” Celina recalled to New York Magazine of an early meeting that Cullors attended in Los Angeles. “She was talking about what people should be hashtagging.”

Photo: Protestors demonstrate during the Derek Chauvin trial, March 29, 2021 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Photo: Chris Tuite/ImageSPACE/MediaPunch /IPX