Black Lives Matter is in the midst of extensive scrutiny over its finances as 26 grassroots BLM chapters filed a lawsuit alleging the leader of the national organization siphoned $10 million in charitable contributions to pay for his own personal expenses.
Black Lives Matter Grassroots, which is the umbrella group for local BLM chapters across America, claimed in the lawsuit that Shalomyah Bowers defrauded local chapters for “unjust enrichment” and used the money as his “personal piggy bank.”
The lawsuit claims that Bowers created a “path of irreparable harm to BLM in less than 18 months.”
“While BLM leaders and movement workers were on the street risking their lives, Mr. Bowers remained in his cushy offices devising a scheme of fraud and misrepresentation to break the implied-in-fact contract between donors and BLM.”
The national outfit’s board of directors denied allegations, calling them “slanderous and devoid of reality.”
The statement blasted the local leaders who filed the lawsuit.
“Instead, we face, yet again, another round of struggle for ‘control’ of one organization,” the statement reads. “This time, by people who say they love black people and center abolitionist values but whose actions are furthest from movement principles of courageous conversations, reconciliation and finding pathways for peace and understanding.”
“They would rather take the same steps of our white oppressors and utilize the criminal legal system which is propped up by white supremacy (the same system they say they want to dismantle) to solve movement disputes.”
They said the “storytelling” of the local BLM chapters is “harmful, divisive and false.”
You can read the national group’s full statement here.
The lawsuit says that Bowers’ actions have forced the national organization to undergo “multiple investigations by the IRS and various state attorneys general.”
More than 300 leaders within the movement, along with BLM Founders, insisted Bowers resign from the national foundation, according to the lawsuit.
Bowers is reportedly a close associate of BLM co-founder Patrisse Cullors, who resigned in May of 2021 after allegations she misused millions of dollars.
Tax documents show that $970,000 went to the father of her child for live-event, design and media production. Her brother was paid $840,000 for “security,” despite lacking any law enforcement experience. Just $200,000 was given to the Trayvon Martin Foundation.
According to the Associated Press, the national BLM organization paid $2.1 million to Bowers Consulting, Bowers’s firm, between July 2020 and June 2021.