In the aftermath of George Floyd’s death, three words captivated the nation’s attention: Black Lives Matter. It became a rallying cry for hundreds of demonstrations around the world; BLM’s black frame became ubiquitous on social media profiles; its activists engaged in what legacy media outlets called “mostly peaceful protests.” Perhaps most importantly, it became the financial beneficiary of our nation’s outrage. Corporations, philanthropies, and celebrities pledged hefty donations to BLM and associated charities.
But now, one question confounds many of the people who supported that group: What happened to the tens of millions of dollars donated to the BLM? Local chapters said those donations did not filter down to the activists on the street. One of its founders, a self-proclaimed Marxist, purchased multiple homes, including a luxurious home in Georgia. The organization has thwarted efforts to find out who’s in charge, or even where its offices are located, and especially what happened to the money. Most recently, one of the group’s rare public financial documents revealed that BLM’s new leadership includes figures deeply enmeshed in the inner circle of Hillary Clinton. The organization’s finances are so mysterious and poorly kept that Rep. Byron Donalds (R-FL) called BLM “one of the largest grifts in American history.”
What has happened to an organization that claimed to be a grassroots movement representing the people?
BLM’s camouflaged radicalism
Black Lives Matter has had the most miraculous resurrection since Jesus Christ. As this author has written, “Black Lives Matter’s approval rating has more than doubled … from 27% in 2016 to 57% in 2020.” That’s no small feat for an organization founded by figures on the Marxist fringe.
The BLM’s formal national structure, Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation (BLMGNF), was formed in 2013 by three activists — Patrisse Cullors, Alicia Garza, and Opal Tometi. The trio coined the phrase as a hashtag on social media after a jury found that George Zimmerman had acted in self-defense when he killed Trayvon Martin. Initial reaction proved positive. Hip-hop stars Jay Z, Beyoncé, and Nicki Minaj held a concert in October 2015 that raised $1.5 million for BLM.
But soon, BLM protesters associated the words “Black Lives Matter” with violent protests in Ferguson Missouri, and with escalating anti-police rhetoric. In the summer of 2015, BLM protesters marched through the streets of St. Paul, Minnesota, chanting, “Pigs in a blanket! Fry ‘em like bacon!” (While legacy media fact-checkers pointed out that this chapter was not an official affiliate of BLMGNF, the movement is notoriously diffuse.) By 2016, the number of cops ambushed in the line of duty hit a 10-year high — and some BLM protesters seemed to celebrate. BLM became so associated with violence that The Washington Post published an op-ed titled, “Don’t Criticize Black Lives Matter for Provoking Violence.”
Conservative media, including this author, also began to spread the word about the BLM’s camouflaged radicalism. In a July 2015 interview on The Real News Network, Morgan State University professor Jared Ball told Cullors some activists had complained about “a lack of perhaps ideological direction in Black Lives Matter” and suggested “a more clear ideological structuring might be of some value” to the organization. “We actually do have an ideological frame. Myself and Alicia, in particular, are trained organizers,” replied Cullors. “We are trained Marxists.”
Five years later, Cullors doubled-down on her self-description. In an online video in December 2020, Cullors alternately laughed away criticisms and claimed they deeply hurt before finally answering: “Am I a Marxist? I am a lot of things. I do believe in Marxism.”
Cullors “was trained for 10 years at the Labor Community Strategy Center, which was established by Eric Mann, a former member of the terrorist Weather Underground. Mann boasts about that in a book he published in 2012, well before the start of Black Lives Matter,” Mike Gonzalez, a scholar at the Heritage Foundation and author of the book “BLM: The Making of a New Marxist Revolution,” told me. “Alicia Garza also was trained and recruited by deeply ideological Marxists. Opal Tometi embraces the Communist/Marxist government of Venezuela.”
BLM, which endorsed a number of far-Left positions, may have summed up its indifference to the quality of life in the black community when its website vowed to “disrupt the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure.”
One of BLM’s three co-founders, Opal Tometi, confessed to The New Yorker BLM always used the wedge issues of police brutality and racism to promote a complete overhaul of the American financial and governmental system:
When we started Black Lives Matter, it wasn’t solely about police brutality and extrajudicial killing. That was a spark point … [to] talk about … housing and education and health-care … [W]e have been calling for the defunding of police, a moratorium on rent, a moratorium on mortgages and utilities.
The tactic is hardly new. Other left-wing activists have admitted to using popular causes as a bait-and-switch to promote collectivism. Marian Wright Edelman, who founded the Children’s Defense Fund, said her rallies to expand the welfare state drew a “shrinking audience” until “I got the idea that children might be a very effective way to broaden the base for change.”
Gonzalez said most of the American people never learned about BLM’s disturbing views, because “the media doesn’t cover Black Lives Matter. The media covers for them.”
But as the facts dribbled out at the end of the Obama administration, the public lost confidence in BLM. And the national temperature changed over the next few years with the election of President Donald Trump, who described himself as a “law and order” president.
Then, in May 2020, Officer Derek Chauvin violated police protocol by kneeling on George Floyd’s neck for more than 9 minutes until he died. The media marked it as an epoch-changing moment. They decreed: A racial reckoning had dawned. Protesters around the world took to the streets in what the media dubbed “mostly peaceful protests,” which caused billions of dollars in damage and killed at least 25 people. Nearly three out of every four (72%) major law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and Canada reported that rioters injured police officers during their cities’ BLM protests.
In the long, hot summer of 2020, BLM became associated with violence once again. Sgt. John Mattingly, an officer on the Louisville Metro Police force and author of the new book “12 Seconds in the Dark,” remembered watching helplessly as “seven people were shot the first night down in the protest in Louisville. Cars were burned. And I remember the anxiety, sitting there with the sweat rolling down the armpits. thinking, ‘Man, I should be out there with those guys.’ You know, I felt like I had almost betrayed them, because I wasn’t allowed to be down there with my brothers.”
He said BLM activists bailed out protesters, who went on to revictimize the city–and each other. “One of the people that they had led out on bail that they had paid for shot another protester in the park and killed him — so, the blood’s on their hands, even though they won’t take responsibility for it.”
But this time, the violence didn’t matter. The money kept rolling in. Corporate titans such as Amazon, Apple, Google, Microsoft, Coca-Cola and Pepsi gave money to BLM charities. “People have to know we didn’t go out and solicit the money. This is money that came from white guilt, white corporation guilt, and they just poured money in,” Cullors marveled in February 2022.
But so did millions of Americans who knew nothing of the group’s Marxist roots. “Individual Americans, who are good-natured, had their feelings manipulated, and then you have corporations who, out of a need to virtue-signal, send millions of dollars to the BLM organization, Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation,” Gonzalez said. Despite the support of billionaires, BLMGNF said its average donation amounted to just $30.76. Those are the funds whose custody appears to be a mystery.
‘You’re livin’ real good off … our babies’ blood’: BLM’s finances under fire
From the very beginning, tensions arose between local BLM chapters and the BLM Global Network Foundation over its finances. “The smaller chapters are putting in all the work, and the Global Network is getting all the paychecks, and they’re getting all the recognition,” said Lisa Simpson, whose son Richard Risher was killed by police in 2016, during an interview last March. “They don’t got a boot to the ground, period. They got their wallet to the ground.”
Things only got worse as a few details became public. BLMGNF did not initially obtain its own tax-exempt status, instead choosing to operate as an affiliated project of a left-wing nonprofit called Thousand Currents. Thousand Currents revealed that, between 2017 and 2019, no less than 83% of BLMGNF’s spending went to travel, salaries, and consultants’ or vendors’ fees; only 6% got passed on to local chapters.
By November 2020, local chapter leaders reached a breaking point, going public with a statement saying, “For years there has been inquiry regarding the financial operations of BLMGN and no acceptable process of either public or internal transparency about the unknown millions of dollars donated to BLMGN, which has certainly increased during this time of pandemic and rebellion. To the best of our knowledge, most chapters have received little to no financial support from BLMGN since the launch in 2013.”
Some of the people who lost loved ones also spoke out. “You’re living good, you’re living good, you’re living real good off our kids — our babies’ blood,” said Samira Rice, whose son, Tamir Rice, was shot by police in 2014. Lisa Simpson said BLM’s financial focus and insistence on basking in the spotlight set back her quest for a judicial response. “They have clearly messed this fight up and got people thinking that our fight is all about money, but it ain’t about money.” Rice agreed BLMGNF’s economic solicitation “makes our fight as parents harder.”
In July 2020, BLMGNF would shift away from Thousand Currents to become a project of the Tides Foundation — a radical nonprofit founded in 1976 that has a long history of funding controversial left-wing groups such groups as the Ruckus Society (which was involved in violent protests against the World Trade Organization in Seattle in 1999), the National Lawyers Guild, and the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). But Tides’ authority over BLM proved short-lived as the IRS granted BLMGNF its own tax-exempt status in December 2020.
BLMGNF’s 2020 Impact Report said the group had received $90 million in donations. It donated $21.7 million to other organizations, including 11 local BLM chapters — but most of the recipients of its six-figure grants were never part of the BLM. Some of the organizations that got include the Black Trans Travel Fund, Black Trans Femmes in the Arts, and the Transgender Law Center’s Black LGBTQIA+ Migrant Project — groups whose connection to police brutality is not readily apparent.
BLM bragged about spending $2 million on a 2020 get-out-the-vote drive aimed at young voters and minorities. Its name, “Ballot or the Bullet,” came from a famous 1964 speech by Malcolm X in which he stated: “Historically, revolutions are bloody, oh yes they are. They have never had a bloodless revolution. Or a non-violent revolution. That don’t happen even in Hollywood.” It would be hard to imagine any conservative organization positively referencing such incendiary rhetoric without triggering instant scrutiny from the FBI and DHS — but BLM appeared to play by its own set of legal rules.
The annual report also revealed that BLMGNF said it spent $8.4 million on “operating expenses.” Even that figure raises eyebrows, since the group noted in an August 2020 IRS filing that it expected to spend $12,706,366 in “Professional Fees” that year.
In July 2021, the group transferred millions of dollars to its Canadian chapter, which spent $6.3 million(U.S.) to buy the former headquarters of the Communist Party of Canada to serve as “a transfeminist, queer affirming space politically aligned with supporting [b]lack liberation.” It would also be the headquarters for BLM’s Canadian chapter, which is led by Janaya Khan — the legally wedded wife of Patrisse Cullors. Other expenditures went to consultants who were related to Cullors or other BLMGNF employees.
Tax documents showed that Cullors had ties to other charities that sent up red flags over their spending patterns. The New York Post reported:
One of the groups, Reform LA Jails, in 2019 collected more than $1.4 million, of which $205,000 went to a consulting company owned by Cullors and her spouse Janaya Khan, New York magazine said.
Another $211,000 was paid to Cullors’ pal Asha Bandele, who co-wrote her memoir, and about $86,000 was paid to an entertainment, clothing and consulting company called Trap Heals, which was started by Damon Turner, the father of Cullors’ child, according to the report.
It also became known that Cullors had spent $3.2 million buying four homes — three in California and one in Georgia. The legacy media, which until recently could not get enough news about Black Lives Matters, had little to say about these matter. And, as with Hunter Biden’s laptop, social media banned people from sharing the news, allegedly out of concern it threatened Cullors’ safety.
Cullors eventually justified her actions by saying “homeownership has always been a way to disrupt white supremacy,” and she insisted that she used no BLM funds to finance her real estate purchases. But the move brought unwanted scrutiny to BLM’s finances, so Cullors stepped down in May 2021, naming two people to lead BLMGNF in her place: Makani Themba and Monifa Bandele. But four months later, we learned they never assumed the group’s leadership. “We were not able to come to an agreement with the acting Leadership Council about our scope of work and authority,” Themba explained. “As a result, we did not have the opportunity to serve in this capacity.”
Thanks to everyone for your support. pic.twitter.com/E268EUpVo4
— Makani Themba (@Makani_Themba) September 3, 2021
They told the media, they had no idea who was in charge of BLM — or its finances. In late January 2022, a reporter from The Washington Examiner visited the address listed on BLM’s tax documents, only to have a security guard tell them BLM had never had an office at that location. And the two known board members reportedly refused all media queries.
BLM had no public leader, no clear address, and no accountability for tens of millions of dollars. Scott Walter, president of the Capital Research Center, which operates InfluenceWatch.org, said he’s never seen anything like it in the nonprofit world. “The $66 or more million that it was last known to possess” is “more than the overwhelming number of charities ever get to see. And to have that be a giant question mark of who controls it … is just amazing,” Scott said.
BLMGNF seemed to go out of its way to avoid transparency. The group changed the beginning of its fiscal year from January to July, an accounting trick that allowed it to avoid reporting on its $60 million windfall until this May 15.
Even Democratic states could not ignore these improprieties. BLM was banned from fundraising in such deep-blue states as California and Washington. It was ruled out of compliance with legal reporting requirements in Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, New Jersey, North Carolina, and Virginia.The California Justice Department threatened to hold board members “personally liable” for the accounting breach. The Democratic fundraising organization ActBlue cut ties with BLM, and the scandal has boomeranged on BLM’s corporate donors. Amazon booted Black Lives Matter off of AmazonSmiles program. “That’s particularly amusing, because Amazon has itself given millions to Black Lives Matter,” said Walter.
The latest document BLM has released contained another revelation as explosive as any of its protests: BLM tax documents said its books were being handled by the Elias Law Group, which is run by high-powered Democratic attorney Marc Elias — the man who funded Christopher Steele’s infamous Russian dossier. BLM also listed a new member of its board of directors, Minyon Moore. Both Elias and Moore have long ties to Bill and Hillary Clinton.
Is this a sign that the radical group has become a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Democratic Party? Scott Walter believes Elias took the helm, because BLM’s false cries of racism generate so much sympathy for left-wing causes that it can’t be allowed to fail. Whatever is happening with its books, or its future, we know that in just a few years BLM has profoundly altered American culture, self-image, and policing policy. “Despite the fact that there are many questions about what they have done with $60 million today, they continue to make our lives worse,” Gonzalez told me. “Children are indoctrinated in the classroom because of Black Lives Matter. Adults are indoctrinated in their places of work because of Black Lives Matter. The homicide rate has increased because of Black Lives Matter. They have left a trail of tears behind them.”
“You know,” he concluded, “they may have changed the United States permanently.”
Perhaps worst of all, U.S. citizens have wrongly come to believe that police are oppressors; America is systemically racist; and their country is not the world’s leading beacon of freedom, a “shining city on a hill.” That may be BLM’s greatest theft.
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