Black Lives Matter (BLM) leaders filed a lawsuit against a GNF official on Friday, accusing him of stealing $10 million in donations intended for the group and using it as his own “personal piggy bank.”
Shalomyah Bowers, a member of the GNF board, and his consultancy company were named defendants in a complaint filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court by Walter Mosley, an attorney for BLM Grassroots, a different organization from GNF.
In the initial case, Bowers is charged with turning into a “turned usurper” and demanding fees from BLM donations, which he then utilized for his own personal finances. The complaint also asks for financial relief and a court order prohibiting GNF from using the BLM identity.
The case claims that despite calls for him to step down from GNF from more than 300 movement leaders including BLM Founders, “he proceeded to break the public trust by self-dealing and breaching his fiduciary duties.”
Melina Abdullah, a co-director of the BLM Grassroots and a founder of the BLM Los Angeles branch, announced the lawsuit at a press conference last week.
The folks who created the Global Network Foundation had lost control of it, she claimed. “Global Network Foundation is currently run by a highly compensated consultant who earned more than $2 million for himself in a single year.”
Abdullah claimed that Patrisse Cullors, a founding member of the Black Lives Matter movement, had developed a transition plan to hand over management of GNF to the grassroots organization, but GNF has barred her from using social media and is boosting messages she disagrees with.
The GNF Board of Directors refuted the claims in a statement released after the press conference. They expressed disappointment and dismay at the “false narrative” promoted by Abdullah and other BLM officials, whom they charged with receiving $10,000 per month in personal stipends.
The statement reads, “We as Black people and Black-led organizations cannot continue spending all of our valuable time and energy fighting and pulling each other down.” We don’t want to and don’t have time to conduct private business on the street. Melina Abdullah, BLMGR, and its leadership, though, are determined to brawl in public over their desire to rule over all of Black Lives Matter.
The board rejected all of the accusations, asserting that it had spoken to Abdullah and other leaders and shared social media accounts with BLM Grassroots. It also maintained that there had never been any intention to merge GNF with BLM Grassroots.
The legal dispute is the most recent point of contention within the BLM movement, which was founded in 2013 following the passing of 17-year-old Travyon Martin and the conviction of George Zimmerman, the neighborhood security guard who shot Martin to death.
The original BLM hashtag was founded by Alicia Garza, Opal Tometi, and Cullors. It later grew into regional chapters that make up BLM Grassroots. In order to serve largely as the movement’s fundraising arm, BLM GNF was incorporated in 2017.
After George Floyd’s passing in 2020, the BLM movement attracted new attention on a national and international level. However, since that time, the organization’s finances have been under heightened scrutiny, specifically where a sizable portion of the $90 million in donations collected in 2020 have gone.
Additionally, 10 of the original BLM local chapters declared their separation from GNF in late 2020 due to a lack of communication and support. Earlier this year, New York Magazine revealed that BLM executives used money given to GNF to purchase a $6 million mansion.
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