Black Lives Matter organizers secretly bought a $6 million home using donor funds, New York Magazine reports.
Organizers used nearly $6 million in cash donated to the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation to buy a 6,500-square-foot California home that had “more than half a dozen bedrooms and bathrooms, several fireplaces, a soundstage, a pool and bungalow, and parking for more than 20 cars.”
The purchase was not reported and organizers hope to “keep the house’s existence a secret,” according to the report. Documents suggest the purchase was handled in ways to “blur or cross” boundaries between the charity and private companies run by its leaders.
After NY Mag reached out to organizers, leaders circulated internal memos discussing ways to “kill” the story or spin the home as an “‘influencer house,’ where abolition+ based content is produced by artists & creatives.”
The memo also described the home as a “safehouse” for leaders who feel threatened.
Group pushes back:
Shalomyah Bowers, a BLMGNF board member, told NY Mag that the group bought the home “with the intention for it to serve as housing and studio space for recipients of the Black Joy Creators Fellowship.”
The fellowship, which “provides recording resources and dedicated space for Black creatives to launch content online and in real life focused on abolition, healing justice, urban agriculture and food justice, pop culture, activism, and politics,” was announced a day after Bowers sent the statement.
Bowers also said the group “always planned” to disclose the purchase in legal filings in May.
“The statement did not address why, if the house was primarily intended to be a creative space, relatively little content has been produced there over the course of 17 months,” the report noted.
The report raised questions about the group’s tax-exempt status and criticism of the group’s handling of donations.
“That’s a very legitimate critique,” Jacob Harold, the co-founder of Candid, an information service that reports on nonprofits, told NY Mag. “It’s not a critique that says what you’re doing is illegal or even unethical; it might just be unstrategic. Why aren’t you spending it on policy or, you know, other strategies that an organization might take to address the core issues around Black Lives Matter?”