Patrisse Cullors, the co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement, falsely claims that her organization was not solvent before they purchased a $6M mansion in the fall of 2020 with donor cash.
“Despite what has been reported, BLM has not been financially solvent,” Cullors told the reporters Monday, according to the Grio.
The Washington Examiner reported that the activist said that before the summer of 2020 the group was broke, but the $90 million windfall spurred by the death of George Floyd is contradicted by financial records from its former fiscal sponsor.
Those sponsors show that BLM’s assets increased year over year since its inception, while it simultaneously spent millions on travel, meals, and consultants.
Following the death of George Floyd and the massive influx of cash that was sent their way, Cullors said that the charity sought a permanent space to secure its legacy for years to come.
“It’s really important for folks to understand that the acquiring of the multipurpose property happened in October of 2020,” Cullors said about the $6 million Los Angeles mansion BLM purchased in cash and then reportedly concealed from the public for 19 months. “For us, it was a huge accomplishment. And I’m speaking specifically to Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation.”
“Securing a black space is neither a crime nor a hustle. That is really important for you all to understand,” she added. “Especially as there’s a long legacy of black people securing and wanting to secure land and property, especially when it comes to organizations.
“We want to see Black Lives Matter exist for a very long time; we want to see the legacy of it exist for a very long time. And there’s so many other legacy organizations that have their own buildings. And because it’s a part of that legacy.”
However, the claim by its co-founder that they were operating on minimal funds before 2020 is not supported by the evidence, in fact, audited financial statements for Thousand Currents, the California charity that fiscally sponsored BLM from 2016 through the first half of 2020, shows that BLM has consistently spent and raised the money it spent.
The group’s assets have increased every year, with their net assets for BLM at the end of the 2017 fiscal year clocking in at $2.4 million. That grew to $2.6 million at the end of the sponsor’s 2018 fiscal year and ballooned even further to $3.5 million at the end of its 2019 fiscal year.
The group spent a combined $5.5 million during its 2017, 2018, and 2019 fiscal years, and about half of the spending, $2.5 million, went toward travel, meals, and consultants, as would be expected for a group of its kind.
However, it’s unclear the identities of the consultants that were paid by BLM during those three years, but the art firm run by the father of Cullors’s only child claimed to be the “lead developer of the art & cultural efforts” of BLM in 2018, according to the company.
The National Legal and Policy Center, which is a watchdog group, said that the IRS has submitted a complaint that Cullor’s overnight stays at the mansion are proof she is unlawfully using BLM’s nonprofit assets for personal benefit.
Angela Davis, a longtime activist and mentor to Cullors, has said that the criticism of BLM’s finances are part of the infamous illegal FBI domestic spying program COINTELPRO:
“I personally knew from the outset, from the time Black Lives Matter was created, that there would be attacks similar to the historical attacks launched against black leaders,” Davis said. “You know, particularly when we saw the FBI come up with this notion of black identity extremists. This was a sign that there was continuity with COINTELPRO. I can’t say that I would have predicted exactly how these attacks would express themselves. But I was convinced that they would happen.”
However, Philadelphia Magazine Editor-at-Large Ernest Owens says that Davis’ dismissal of public concerns about BLM’s use of charitable funds is unacceptable:
“Black journalists like myself and others have been denied access, transparency, and follow-up from some of these #BlackLivesMatter leaders for years,” Owens said on Twitter. “Stop lying on our work.”