A lawsuit filed on Thursday alleges that a top officer of the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation (BLM) unlawfully diverted more than $10 million of contributed funds to his personal use.
The complaint filed in California’s Los Angeles County Superior Court claims that Shalomyah Bowers used BLM as his “personal piggy bank.” Bowers is the secretary of the BLM board of directors and is also accused of “betraying the public trust by self-dealing and breaching his fiduciary duties.”
NEW: BLM insiders said in a lawsuit filed Thursday that the embattled charity is currently under IRS investigation for misuse of charitable funds and self-dealing by Shalomyah Bowers, a close associate of BLM co-founder Patrisse Cullors.@dcexaminer https://t.co/1YcAeWGIkk
— Andrew Kerr (@AndrewKerrNC) September 3, 2022
BLM is a non-profit corporation that acts as the administrative and fund-raising arm of the Black Lives Matter political movement. Bowers has assumed control over BLM’s financial accounts, accounting records, and social media accounts according to the lawsuit.
Bowers has allegedly shut off access to many of BLM’s organizers like Melina Abdullah. Abdullah founded the Los Angeles chapter of BLM and heads up Black Lives Matter Grassroots, Inc., the plaintiff organization in the new lawsuit.
The complaint alleges that BLM’s financial accounts should contain “over $100 million,” and says that Bowers and the BLM board has engaged in “self dealing, enriching themselves off of the backs of people who put their blood, sweat and tears into this movement.”
The Black Lives Matter movement began almost a decade ago following the acquittal of George Zimmerman in his trial for the shooting of Trayvon Martin in Florida. Especially since the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis in 2020, the movement has raised tens of millions in contributions to BLM from mainstream “woke” corporations with its mission to defund the police and “abolish white supremacy.”
Local BLM chapters and families of victims of police shootings began asking since the huge financial windfall to BLM where all the money was going. BLM co-founder Patrisse Cullors came under intense scrutiny when it was revealed that she personally owned residential real estate worth more than $3 million. Reporters also learned that BLM paid more than $6 million to purchase residential real estate in Los Angeles.
Bowers was hired to run the newly created BLM nonprofit, which was reportedly set up to provide greater transparency and accountability for donated funds. The lawsuit alleges that after Cullors resigned from BLM, Bowers “managed to steal control” of the organization through “a series of misrepresentations and unauthorized backroom dealings.”
Bowers has not filed any response to the lawsuit in court to date, but posted a lengthy statement on the BLM website calling the allegations made by Abdullah as “slanderous and devoid of reality.”
Bowers went on to say that the lawsuit’s “storytelling” gives “fodder to right-wing media’s clear agenda of sowing distrust and division among Black folks, and it is in deep contrast to abolitionist values and the fight for Black liberation.”
CharityWatch Executive Director Laurie Styron told reporters earlier this year that the BLM nonprofit is “like a giant ghost ship full of treasure drifting in the night with no captain, no discernible crew, and no clear direction.”