Patrisse Cullors, the co-founder of Black Lives Matter (BLM) Global Network Foundation, has spent tens of thousands of dollars in the renovations of her luxury Los Angeles home amid allegations that leaders of the organization used donations to enrich themselves. The donations have been meant to better struggling African-American communities but this hasn't been happening.
Reports highlight that some state and local BLM chapters have been disaffiliated from the national organization because of corruption allegations. Moreover, the parents of several black men killed by police have criticized the organization for fundraising off of their trauma without sharing the donations.
Who is Patrisse Cullors?
Patrisse Cullors, the co-founder of BLM and former leader of the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation, came up with the organization in 2013. She is also an artist, organizer, educator and a popular public speaker. Cullors is the founder of "Dignity and Power Now" – a grassroots Los Angeles-based organization. She has received recognition for her work for "Black Lives Matter" in Time magazine's 2020 "100 Women of the Year" project.
Cullors resigned from its leadership in 2021 after her finances came under scrutiny. She stepped down to focus on her forthcoming second book, "An Abolitionist's Handbook" and a TV development deal with Warner Bros highlighting black stories. She assured supporters that the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation's agenda remains the same, that is, to eradicate white supremacy and build life-affirming institutions. Cullors highlighted that her leaving the Foundation doesn't mean that she misused donations to acquire her properties.
Her Property Portfolio
Cullors owns four US homes worth over $3.2 million. She purchased a $1.4 million home, in 2021, in a predominately white, upper-class neighbourhood. Cullors recently completed renovations, worth tens of thousands of dollars, at her luxurious LA home, adding a new plunge pool and backyard sauna. Reports say she also added a children's play area for her young son outside her 2,580-square foot three-bedroom home in Los Angeles' Topanga Canyon neighbourhood. One of her properties, which she has since sold, was attached to an airplane hangar and runway in an Atlanta suburb.
The BLM co-founder, over the past year, admitted to using the organization's property twice for personal purposes. But she denied purchasing homes for herself and members of her family. The Post revealed in 2021 that she purchased the Topanga Canyon home for $1.4 million. A real estate blog revealed that the activist bought this property under her company Abolitionist Entertainment LLC.
Black Live Matter's finances has always been under scrutiny. The foundation, which gained momentum after the police killing of George Floyd in May 2020, announced a$90 million fundraising haul over a year ago. But it drew criticisms over access to donor funds. There were broader calls for openness from activists in several local BLM chapters and from the families of police brutality victims who had rallied to the movement. The backlash came about when an investigative report established that Cullors was the only voting board member in 2020, when BLM raised $90 million but ended the year with only $42 million as a consequence of profligate spending on smaller organizations, consultants and real estate.
Charity experts said it is far from best practices, especially for a group with tens of millions in its coffers.