Los Angeles, CA – Black Lives Matter co-found Patrisse Cullors referred to the $90 million in donations her organization received after the death of George Floyd to support activism as “white guilt money” and said mistakes she made setting up the group have been “weaponized” against her.
Cullors told the MSNBC podcast “Into America” that the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation (BLMGNF) was utterly unprepared for the onslaught of contributions it received after Floyd died in the custody of the Minneapolis police on May 25, 2020.
“Yes, it was a major shock,” the former executive director of the group said. “It was also a lot of like, ‘Oh, wait, I did not see that coming.’”
“You know, contrary to what, you know, has been reported, much of the funding that came in was from individual donors,” Cullors told MSNBC.
“That was a lot of white guilt money. There’s a lot of white folks being like, ‘We just got to put the money,’” she bragged.
Cullors co-founded Black Lives Matter with two other women after George Zimmerman was acquitted for shooting Trayvon Martin in 2013, MSNBC reported.
She was the only member of the original group still affiliated with the organization when Floyd died and Black Lives Matter began drowning in a tsunami of contributions.
“And BLM was still figuring out what is its infrastructure, you know? So I was really called back in to help do that work,” Cullors told MSNBC. “And I did a lot of that labor, I did a lot of that framework. And I’ve left BLM, but a lot of that infrastructure was being built to figure out where do we go with this.
Cullors claimed that BLMGNF was “building the plane as we fly it” and that they had no idea what they were doing in the beginning.
She also repeatedly claimed that the black nonprofit organization has been subjected to considerably more scrutiny than white nonprofit organizations, MSNBC reported.
“ACLU didn’t get question for the hundreds of millions of dollars that they poured in in 2016,” Cullors claimed. “And I love the ACLU team. Like, this is not a diss. But I watched hundreds of millions of dollars get poured in in 2016 and nobody questioned them. They were valorized.”
She blamed the “right-wing” for “a narrative that the mistakes that we made are mistakes that black people make.”
“The mistakes that we made are not what black people make,” Cullors told MSNBC. “The mistakes we made are what people in leadership make, people across leadership. And the way that the right-wing media specifically has characterized the mistakes are truly anti-black.”
“They are about this idea that black people, especially black women don’t know how to manage money, don’t how to manage funds, don’t know what to do with money,” the activist complained.
She explained away complaints from Black Lives Matter chapters across the country that the national organization hadn’t helped them by claiming BLMGNF had given away “a lot of resources,” MSNBC reported.
“I hate that people feel that way,” Cullors said. “One organization could only do so much, just like one leader can only do so much. It’s going to take all of us. And sometimes I believe it’s easier to criticize people than really understand the fullness of what’s happening.”
“But so many folks received a lot of resources,” she added.
But despite those claims, recently filed tax documents showed that the group paid the father of Cullors’ baby, Damon Turner, five times more than it donated to the Trayvon Martin Foundation, the New York Post reported.
In fiscal year 2020, BLMGNF paid Turner’s company $969,459 for production, design and media services, according to the recent tax filings.
Another $840,000 was paid to Cullors’ brother’s security company, the New York Post reported.
Multiple states have launched investigations into Black Lives Matter’s usage of donations to the group that were meant to support activism.
California and Washington called a halt to the group accepting donations earlier this year after it failed to file financial statements.
California told Black Lives Matter that it was in danger of losing its tax exempt status with the state also threatened to hold the group’s leadership financially liable.
Indiana filed a lawsuit against the group earlier this month.
BLMGNF shared its 63-page Form 990 exclusively with the Associated Press in May.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) filing showed that of the $90 million in donations the group received after the death of George Floyd in the custody of the Minneapolis police in 2020, BLMGNF invested $32 million in stocks.
The group said the investment was made to create an endowment to ensure the future success of the foundation, the Associated Press reported.
BLMGNF ended its last fiscal year – which ran from July 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021 – with $42 million in net assets.
A board member told the Associated Press that the foundation had a $4 million operating budget.
The tax filing was the first time BLMGNF has had to publicly disclose its financials because it became a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization in December of 2020.
According to the tax filing, the Black Lives Matter national organization doesn’t have an executive director or any in-house staff.
The documents disclosed the $6 million purchase of a mansion in Studio City to be used as a compound to be used for fellowships for black artists.
Last week, Cullors admitted that she had used the mansion for personal events and paid family members to run the property.
Cullors maintained in an interview with the Associated Press that she had done nothing wrong despite accusations she benefited from the BLMGNF, including accusations she bought homes for herself with dollars gifted for activism.
The mansion that has most recently made headlines was featured in the background of a YouTube video that showed BLMGNF co-founders 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.
The group paid $6 million in cash for the 6,500-square foot, seven-bedroom Los Angeles mansion in Studio City.
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.
Cullors told MSNBC that her biggest mistake was not drawing a salary from BLMGNF when she was executive director because that blurred the lines.
“Some of my mistakes are being weaponized against me and also the entire movement,” she complained. “And that’s truly disappointing to see us fall into that as well.”