Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors — who resigned in the wake of a Post expose of her spending spree on lavish homes — is tied to several other fundraising organizations whose finances raise “potential red flags,” according to a new report.
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.
Reform LA Jails also reportedly paid $270,000 to a consulting company run by its treasurer, Christman Bowers, who’s also known as Shalomya Bowers and has signed tax documents as the deputy executive director of the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation, which reportedly has $60 million its coffers but no leader since Cullors quit under fire in May.
Bowers is also involved in at least three other groups that Cullors started or helped lead — including Dignity and Power Now, JusticeLA, and the Justice Teams Network — between which money has passed, New York said, citing official filings.
Jeffrey Tenenbaum, a nonprofit lawyer in Washington, DC, told the magazine that the various payments may have violated state and federal laws that prohibit self-dealing and transactions among related parties.
“The transactions at issue certainly raise eyebrows and potential red flags,” he said.
A California activist who claims Black Lives Matter “got rich” off grassroots organizers like himself is now raising questions about the group’s finances after it disclosed it had $60 million in its coffers.
Tory Johnson, who launched Black Lives Matter Huntington Beach following the May 2020 murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis cops, organized a counterprotest to a White Lives Matter rally in the California city in April 2021.
Johnson told New York Magazine he and fellow protesters were shot with rubber bullets at the Huntington Beach Pier rally and were jailed afterward. Twelve people in all were arrested, the Los Angeles Times reported.
At about the same time as the rally, BLM co-founder and executive director Patrisse Cullors was urging followers to join her for an online “F-ck White Supremacy, Let’s Get Free” event.
Days earlier, Cullors and the Black Lives Matter Global Network denounced Johnson’s planned counterprotest while insinuating such actions may be dangerous, New York Magazine reported.
“For that reason, we are not supporting or affiliated with any counterprotests you may hear about being organized in Huntington Beach (or anywhere else, at any time),” the group said in a statement.
Johnson’s group, whose Facebook page has roughly 280 members, is not officially recognized by BLM and receives no financial backing from the larger organization despite having the familiar moniker, according to the report.
Johnson, who fled the April 2021 counterprotest in a private car out of concerns for his safety, said groups like the NAACP started pulling their support after Khan-Cullors’ statement.
“To be a grassroots organizer trying to stop a freaking KKK rally in a city – why would you try to stop that?” Johnson asked.
Instead of attending or supporting the counterprotest, Cullors could be seen live on YouTube during the event sponsored by UGG. Some six weeks later, she resigned, saying she wanted to focus on books and a production deal with Warner Bros, New York magazine reported.
Johnson had previously sent people who asked him how they could help BLM to the global network’s website, but he’s now asking questions about the group disclosed it had some $60 million on hand.
“I don’t tell people what I’m actually going through,” said Johnson, who told New York magazine he feels disavowed and abandoned by BLM. “I don’t tell people how stressed I actually am. But, you know, I actually have to live through all of this … They got rich off my back.”
The Post reported in April that Cullors went on a real estate buying binge a month earlier, scooping up four high-end homes for $3.2 million in the US, including in Los Angeles and Georgia. She also eyed a property in the Bahamas at a resort where Justin Timberlake and Tiger Woods both have homes.
Cullors, who denied BLM donations were used to buy the upscale residences, resigned a month later, with activists Makani Themba and Monifa Bandele taking her place.
The BLM Global Network Foundation, which raised more than $90 million in 2020 alone, also announced Friday that the nonprofit has a balance of $60 million after expenses and grant disbursements.
Public records also show that BLM transferred millions to a Canadian charity run by the wife of its co-founder to purchase a mansion that once served as the headquarters of the Communist Party.
Janaya Khan, Cullors’ wife, snagged the 10,000-square-foot mansion for $6.3 million in cash in July 2021, The Post reported. The purchase of the Toronto property surfaced over growing concerns of the activist group’s lack of transparency in its finances.
It remains unclear who is running BLM now, as Themba and Bandele said they never actually took the job while citing disagreements with its leadership council.
It’s also unclear how many official chapters BLM currently has, New York Magazine reported. A spokesperson for the 10 chapters cited in fall 2020 declined to comment, according to the report, but said questions about its finances “does not move the movement forward” and leads to more online harassment of Cullors.
But organizers associated with the larger movement like Johnson are calling for more clarity about how BLM’s money is collected and spent, New York Magazine reported.
A message seeking comment from BLM was not returned Monday.
Lisa Simpson, the mother of an 18-year-old black man killed by LAPD in 2016, told New York she got involved with BLM’s Los Angeles chapter after her son’s death. Melina Abdullah, a cofounder of Black Lives Matter L.A. and co-director of BLM Grassroots, a tier of officially recognized chapters, stood alongside Simpson while calling on people to donate $5,000 for Richard Risher’s funeral.
But Simpson said she’s never received any funds from the national group to help pay for her son’s service. She’s now living in a motel room with her 13-year-old child rented by the week and claims BLM left her high and dry.
“Y’all out here false-flagging in this fight,” Simpson told New York Magazine of BLM’s public stances. “They putting hashtags on our kids, and y’all not even helping us. We homeless, and we can’t get no type of help from this entity.”