Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors said on Thursday that she is resigning as the executive director of the organization amid criticism and controversy over her lavish lifestyle. The 37-year-old has come under severe criticism after it was alleged that she used the organization's funds to buy property worth over $3 million.
However, Cullors said that her resignation has nothing to do with the "attacks." Cullors, who has been at the helm of the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation for nearly six years, said that she would instead focus on other projects that includes a book and TV deal. Her last day with the foundation is Friday.
Ending a Long Association
Cullors said that she is resigning from the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation to focus on her second book and a multi-year TV development deal with Warner Bros. "I've created the infrastructure and the support, and the necessary bones and foundation, so that I can leave," she said, adding, "It feels like the time is right."
However, her departure comes after it was revealed last month that she has amassed a $3 million property portfolio, despite describing herself as a trained Marxist''. Cullors faced fierce backlash over revelations about her personal spending, including the recent purchase of a $1.4 million home in a ritzy L.A. neighborhood.
She was subject to right wing attacks who alleged that Cullors misused the organization's funds and used then to buy those houses. However, she vehemently denied the allegations. Her property purchase and the subsequent attacks raised serious question on what percentage of BLM donations were actually going towards social justice programs.
However, on Thursday too Cullors continued to maintain her stance and said that her departure has been in the works and is not tied to those "attacks."
"Those were right-wing attacks that tried to discredit my character, and I don't operate off of what the right thinks about me," Cullors said.
Maintaining Her Stance
Last month, Cullors was seen crying while defending herself following allegations that she misused the organization's money to buy property. She described the criticism as "racist and sexist" smears deliberately put out by the "right-wing media."
However, it just wasn't conservatives who pressed Cullors over her finances. Critics of the foundation contend more of that money should have gone to the families of Black victims of police brutality who have been unable to access the resources needed to deal with their trauma and loss.
"That is the most tragic aspect," said the Rev. T. Sheri Dickerson, president of an Oklahoma City BLM chapter and a representative of the #BLM10, a national group of organizers that has publicly criticized the foundation over funding and transparency.
The BLM foundation revealed in February that it took in just over $90 million last year, following the May 2020 murder of George Floyd, a Black man whose last breaths under the knee of a white Minneapolis police officer inspired protests globally.
The foundation said it ended 2020 with a balance of more than $60 million, after spending nearly a quarter of its assets on operating expenses, grants to Black-led organizations and other charitable giving. Perhaps this was one reason many have been saying that more could and should have been gone to the families of BLM victims.
Meanwhile, it was also revealed that a jail reform activist group founded by Cullors spent $26,000 for meetings and "appearances" at a luxury Malibu resort.
The group, Reform LA Jails, shelled out a whopping $10,179 for "meetings and appearances" at the Calamigos Guest Ranch and Beach Club. It spent a further $15,593 at the Malibu Conference Center, which is owned by the resort, between July and September 2019.
After the spending was revealed by the Daily Caller, former Fox host Megyn Kelly Tweeted: "BLM must stand for... Babes Lounging in Malibu? Big Loads of Money? Blatant Lies about Marxism?"
That said, Cullors made most of her money from the multiple projects she has been involved with. This includes consulting on racial justice projects outside of BLM. In 2018, she also released a best-selling autobiography titled: 'When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir.'
Moreover, Cullors has also been paid an advance for her second book.
On October 5, St. Martin's Press will release Cullors´ upcoming book, titled 'An Abolitionists Handbook,' which she says is her guide for activists on how to care for each other and resolve internal conflict while fighting to end systemic racism.
Cullors and the foundation have said they do support families without making public announcements or disclosing dollar amounts.