blm sign black lives matter
© REUTERS / Eileen T. Meslar
But founder Patrisse Cullors' brother was still paid $1.6M for 'security services' in 2022, while sister of board member earned $1.1M for 'consulting'

Black Lives Matter's national organization is at risk of going bankrupt after its finances plunged $8.5 million into the red last year - while simultaneously handing multiple staff seven-figure salaries.

Financial disclosures obtained by The Washington Free Beacon show the perilous state of BLM's Global Network Foundation, which officially emerged in November 2020, as a more formal way of structuring the civil rights movement.

Yet despite the financial controversy and scrutiny, BLM GNF continued to hire relatives of the founder, Patrisse Cullors, and several board members.

Cullors' brother, Paul Cullors, set up two companies which were paid $1.6 million providing 'professional security services' for Black Lives Matter in 2022.

Patricia Cullors blm black lives matter
Patrisse Cullors employed her brother, Paul Cullors (right) for security at BLM's properties
Paul Cullors was also one of BLM's only two paid employees during the year, collecting a $126,000 salary as 'head of security' on top of his consulting fees. He is best known as a graffiti artist, with no background in security. Patrisse Cullors defended hiring him, saying registered security firms which hired former police officers could not be trusted, given the movement's opposition to police brutality.

For the previous year, 2021, tax filings revealed that BLM paid a company owned by Damon Turner, the father of Cullors' child, nearly $970,000 to help 'produce live events' and provide other 'creative services.'

Cullors resigned in May 2021.

'While Patrisse Cullors was forced to resign due to charges of using BLM's funds for her personal use, it looks like she's still keeping it all in the family,' said Paul Kamenar, an attorney for the National Legal and Policy Center watchdog group.
blm funds pay family friends
© Associated PressD'Zhane Parker, left, Cicley Gay, center, and Shalomyah Bowers pose for a portrait in May 2022.
Shalomyah Bowers, who took over from Cullors when she resigned, also benefitted handsomely from the group: in 2022, his consultancy firm was paid $1.7 million for management and consulting services, the Free Beacon reported.

And the sister of former Black Lives Matter board member Raymond Howard was also employed in a lucrative role as a consultant. Danielle Edwards's firm, New Impact Partners, was paid $1.1 million for consulting services in 2022, the Free Beacon said. BLM GNF also agreed to pay an additional $600,000 to an unidentified former board member's consulting firm 'in connection with a contract dispute'.

The non-profit group ran an $8.5 million deficit, and its investment accounts fell in value by nearly $10 million in the most recent tax year, financial disclosures show.

The group logged a $961,000 loss on a securities sale of $172,000, suggesting the group sustained an 85 percent loss on the transaction. Further details of that security have not been shared.

And the cash flowing into BLM's coffers has dropped dramatically. Donations plunged by 88 percent between 2021 and 2022, from $77 million to just $9.3 million for the most recent financial year.

Comment: Folks finally wising up.

Patrisse Cullors, who had been at the helm of the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation for nearly six years, stepped down in May 2021, amid anger at the group's financial decisions and perceived lack of transparency.

A year later, in May 2022, it was revealed Black Lives Matter spent more than $12 million on luxury properties in Los Angeles and in Toronto - including a $6.3 million 10,000-square-foot property in Canada that was purchased as part of a $8M 'out of country grant.'

The Toronto property was bought with grant money that was meant for 'activities to educate and support black communities, and to purchase and renovate property for charitable use.'
BLM mansion toronto
© GoogleThe Victorian red brick mansion, which was previously home to the Communist Party, was bought by BLM over the summer and is being turned in to the Wildseed arts center
The group had said it was planning to use the property as main headquarters in Canada, and it has now been named the Wilseed Center for Arts and Activism.

It emerged that Cullors transferred millions from the organization to a charity run by her wife, Janaya Khan, to purchase the property.

Cullors admitted to AP that her group was ill-equipped to handle the finances of a charity which received $90 million the year after George Floyd was killed - but denied any wrongdoing.

Cullors issued a statement denying she used the $6 million LA property for personal purposes, but then had to backtrack and admit she had used the compound for purposes that were not strictly business.
patrisse cullors blm real estate houses
© The BridgeheadPatrisse Cullors' current real estate holdings. In her new Topanga Canyon zip code, 88 per cent of residents are white and 1.8 per cent black, according to the census.
The activist also amassed a $3 million property portfolio of her own, including homes in LA and Georgia, although there is no suggestion of any financial impropriety.

It is not known if the group paid out lucrative contracting fees to Cullors' friends and family past June 2022, when a new board of directors was brought in. The board is now led by nonprofit adviser Cicley Gay, who has filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy three times since 2005.

Gay was ordered by a court to attend financial management lessons, and at the time of her appointment in April 2022 had more than $120,000 in unpaid debt.
cicely Gay blm black lives matter
© Black Lives MatterCicely Gay, 44, was appointed to the board of directors of Black Lives Matter's Global Network Foundation in April 2022
She was one of three people appointed to the board, the organization said in a tweet. She subsequently was described as being chair of the board.

She told The New York Times she had been appointed to straighten out the organization's finances, after BLMGFN faced intense scrutiny over its spending of donor cash.

'No one expected the foundation to grow at this pace and to this scale,' said Gay.

'Now, we are taking time to build efficient infrastructure to run the largest Black, abolitionist, philanthropic organization to ever exist in the United States.'

It later emerged that Gay has been declared bankrupt three times, according to federal reports obtained by The New York Post. Gay, a mother of three, filed for bankruptcy in 2005, 2013 and 2016.

BLMGFN has faced intense questions about its handling of donations, which surged in particular during the George Floyd protests in the summer of 2020.

The organization in February 2021 said it had taken in more than $90 million in 2020 and still had $60 million on hand. Last year, it was down to $42 million, while the Free Beacon reports BLM has now spent two thirds of the $90 million cash it had to hand.

Cullors, the co-founder of the organization, resigned in May 2021 as director of BLMGNF, amid scrutiny of her own property empire. She has written best-selling books, and has a contract with Warner Brothers to produce content.

Then in April 2022 it emerged that BLMGFN had bought a mansion in Los Angeles for $5.8 million, which they said was to be used as a 'safe space' for activists and for events.

The organization responded to the reports in a lengthy Twitter feed, with the group noting that more 'transparency' was required going forward.
Patricia Cullors
© GettyGrifter-in-Chief, BLM founder Patricia Cullors
'There have been a lot of questions surrounding recent reports about the purchase of Creator's House in California. Despite past efforts, BLMGNF recognizes that there is more work to do to increase transparency and ensure transitions in leadership are clear,' it stated.

BLM then proceeded to blame the media for the furore and the 'inflammatory and speculative' reports that saw journalists probing the group's financials saying that it 'caused harm'. The reports 'do not reflect the totality of the movement,' the organization claimed.

'We know narratives like this cause harm to organizers doing brilliant work across the country and these reports do not reflect the totality of the movement,' one of the tweets reads. 'We apologize for the distress this has caused to our supporters and those who work in service of Black liberation daily.'

'We are redoubling our efforts to provide clarity about BLMGNF's work,' noting an 'internal audit' was underway together with 'tightening compliance operations and creating a new board to help steer to the organization to its next evolution.'
black lives matter california mansion patrice cullors
© RedFinAn expose detailed how the organization had used donations to purchase a $6 million home in Los Angeles
BLM attempted to justify the purchase of the mansion by saying it was made to encourage 'Black creativity' with the property 'a space for Black folks to share their gifts with the world and hone their crafts as we see it.'

The organization also went on to defend how the funds the group raised were spent including the $3 million used for 'COVID relief' and a further $25 million dollars to black-led organizations.

'We are embracing this moment as an opportunity for accountability, healing, truth-telling, and transparency. We understand the necessity of working intentionally to rebuild trust so we can continue forging a new path that sustains Black people for generations,' the group wrote.

The barrage of tweets, which notably had their comments turned off, ended with the group announcing they were 'embracing this moment as an opportunity for accountability, healing, truth-telling, and transparency' and 'working intentionally to rebuild trust.'

Concerns over the groups finances have swirled for years with BLM coming under intense scrutiny in the past.

In February 2022 the group stopped online fundraising following a demand by the California attorney general tho show where millions of dollars in donations received in 2020 went.

The group said the 'shutdown' was simply short term while any 'issues related to state fundraising compliance' were addressed.