Los Angeles, CA – Black Lives Matter founders have more explaining to do after it was revealed the group paid $6 million in cash for a 6,500-square foot, seven bedroom, $6 million Los Angeles mansion.
The mansion was featured in the background of a YouTube video that showed Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation (BLMGNF) co-founders Patrisse Cullors and Alicia Garza, and Black Lives Matter Los Angeles founder Melina Abdullah, discussing their activism on the first anniversary of George Floyd’s death, according to Sean Campbell at New York Magazine.
“For me, the hardest moments have been the right-wing-media machine just leveraging literally all its weight against me, against our movement, against BLM the organization,” Cullors said. “I’m some weeks out now from a lot of the noise, so I have more perspective, right? While I was in it, I was in survival mode.”
The co-founder of the national Black Lives Matter movement was referring to allegations that she used BLMGNF donor funds to help pay for new homes she purchased for $3.2 million in Los Angeles and Georgia, New York Magazine reported.
She denied having used Black Lives Matter donations to buy the ostentatious properties but donors continued to question what was happening with the money they had contributed for activism.
The purchase of the $6 million home called “Campus” by the organization’s leadership was not publicly reported and the way the purchase was handled revealed they had hoped to keep its existence a secret, New York Magazine reported.
When that publication began asking questions about it, Black Lives Matters circulated a strategy memo discussing how to deal with the revelation.
Responses ranged from “Can we kill the story?” to “Our angle — needs to be to deflate ownership of the property,” New York Magazine reported.
The memo had bullet points that explained “Campus is part of cultural arm of the org — potentially as an ‘influencer house,’ where abolition+ based content is produced by artists & creatives.”
It also described the property as a “safehouse” for organizations leaders who had been threatened, New York Magazine reported.
But the shady way that the group went about acquiring the mansion raised even more eyebrows.
Two weeks after BLMGNF received $66.5 million in contributions in October of 2020, Dyane Pascall bought the property that would become known as “Campus” for $6 million in cash, New York Magazine reported.
Pascall is the financial manager of Janaya and Patrisse Consulting, an LLC owned by Cullors and her wife.
He is also the chief financial officer of Trap Heals, a nonprofit led by the father of Cullors’ child, New York Magazine reported.
Pascall transferred ownership of the mansion less than a week later to a Delaware LLC established by the law firm Perkins Coie, a move that hid the identity of the property’s owner from the public.
Black Lives Matter leadership immediately began using the house after its ownership was transferred, New York Magazine reported.
Cullors’ brother, Paul Cullors, was paid to run physical security for the Campus in addition to handling security at his sister’s private homes.
The group’s internal records showed Cullors’ mother was approved for a cleaning job at “Campus,” New York Magazine reported.
Cullors’ sister also signed an employee nondisclosure agreement but it was unclear if she was paid to work there.
BLMGNF board member Shalomyah Bowers defended the purchase of the Los Angeles mansion and said it was bought “with the intention for it to serve as housing and studio space for recipients of the Black Joy Creators Fellowship.”
The fellowship she referred to was announced the morning after her announcement, New York Magazine reported.
Bowers said in the same statement that BLMGNF had “always planned” to disclose the house in legal filings this May.
But the existence of the “Campus” purchased with donations meant for activism has outraged many supporters and it was not the first time that Cullors was at the center of the controversy.
Cullors, a self-proclaimed Marxist, resigned as executive director of BLMGNF in May of 2021 after the allegations of malfeasance arose surrounding the new homes she had purchased, just a few days after she filmed the video with Garza and Abdullah at the $6 million home that donors didn’t know about, according to New York Magazine.
Donors were further outraged when they learned that BLMGNF gave millions of dollars to a Canadian non-profit run by Cullors’ wife to buy a 10,000-square foot mansion in Toronto that once served as the Communist Party’s headquarters.
Public records showed that Cullors’ wife, Janaya Khan, set up a non-profit called M4BJ and purchased the mansion for the equivalent of about $6.3 million (in U.S. dollars) in July of 2021, the New York Post reported.
The money for the venture that would be named the Wildseed Centre for Art and Activism was transferred to M4BJ by BLBGNF.
Questions surrounding who has control of BLMGNF and its considerable assets have swirled since Cullors resigned.
And in February, California told Black Lives Matter that it was in danger of losing its tax exempt status with the state if it didn’t file its financials.
The state also threatened to hold the group’s leadership financially liable.
The state also notified BLMGNF that it was prohibited from “soliciting or disbursing charitable funds” in California until it had turned in its 2020 Form 990 and a host of other overdue financial records, the Washington Examiner reported.
The letter warned that BLMGNF was facing fines for “each month or partial month for which the report(s) are delinquent.”
California DOJ’s letter said that the fines would have to come out of organizer’s pockets, the Washington Examiner reported.
The problem is that nobody knows who is in charge of Black Lives Matter’s national organization at this point, the Washington Examiner reported.
Activists Makani Themba and Monifa Bandele allegedly took over the running of BLMGNF when Khan-Cullors resigned, but then they suddenly quit in September of 2021, the New York Post reported.
They later put out a statement that said they were never in control of the organization.
BLMGNF raised more than $90 million in 2020 and had $60 million left in hand as of February of 2021, the New York Post reported.