Questions are being asked about how BLM money has been spent


The $6m BLM mansion: After the sickening George Floyd murder, $90m poured into Black Lives Matters coffers in just one year. Now, very awkward questions are being asked about how it’s been spent – including on this luxurious Californian home

The protests swept the world during the darkest days of 2020’s lockdown. They were summed up in a three-word slogan — Black Lives Matter — that defied anyone to contradict it.

Hundreds of thousands of people, sickened by video footage showing a white police officer squeezing the life out of a black American by kneeling on his neck, took to the streets in cities from New York to London and Cape Town to protest police violence against black people.

Corporations, celebrities and the public poured in millions of dollars to the cause. What they were funding wasn’t always clear. Warnings that the BLM movement’s leadership intended to abolish the police and overthrow capitalism were ignored in the stampede to look worthy.

Property photos show the luxurious seven-bedroom, 6,500-square foot $6million Los Angeles mansion reportedly purchased with Black Lives Matter donations

The mansion comes complete with a sound stage (pictured) and mini filming studio. According to the property listing, the mansion’s guests have included Hollywood royalty such as Marilyn Monroe and Humphrey Bogart

The Studio City home – which sits on a three-quarter-acre lot – boasts more than half-dozen bedrooms and bathrooms, a ‘butler’s pantry’ in the kitchen (pictured) as well as multiple fireplaces and a ‘mud room’ 

The property’s patio and outdoor yard features an inground pool and cabana 

English footballers still ‘take the knee’ before games in deference to BLM and even Sir Keir Starmer was photographed doing the same in his office at the height of the protests. With those who didn’t fall into line risking accusations of racism, few wanted to be thought out of step.

So no wonder three co-founders of the movement might have felt they deserved to celebrate a little as their cause gained widespread attention.

In a video they released on YouTube last year to mark the first anniversary of George Floyd’s death at the hands of a white police officer in Minneapolis, the trio — Patrisse Cullors, Alicia Garza and Melina Abdullah — toasted each other with champagne.

The mood was jubilant: they were leading a group that had received a jaw-dropping $90million (£69million) in donations in 2020 alone. And yet it hadn’t been entirely plain-sailing.

BLM founders (from left) include Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, Opal Tometi (pictured together left in 2015) and LA faction founder Melina Abdullah (right photo)

The Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation famously grew into one of the largest international movements against racial injustice in mid-2020 but has now come under intense scrutiny over its finances

Patrisse Cullors, the movement’s co-founder and until last year its executive director, was incensed by criticism she’d received from what she called a ‘Right-wing-media machine just leveraging literally all its weight against me, against our movement, against BLM the organisation’.

She added: ‘It’s because we’re powerful, because we are winning. It’s because we are threatening the establishment, we’re threatening white supremacy.’

She was mainly referring to a 2021 story in the New York Post that revealed how, since the BLM movement took off, she’d spent $3.2million (£2.5million) buying four homes, including three in LA and another in Atlanta, Georgia, with an aircraft hangar.

Cullors insisted she’d paid for the properties with money earned from public speaking and book sales.

It was hardly the first time BLM leaders had tried to dismiss any criticism as racist. ‘I think they’ve attempted to cancel us, but they have not been successful,’ chimed in Melina Abdullah, who co-founded BLM’s LA ‘chapter’.

‘They’ve attempted to say — and I’m just gonna say it — ‘She bought some damn houses. We gonna cancel her.’ ‘

Alicia Garza — another co-founder of the BLM movement — had a message for their rich, white critics: ‘Y’all don’t know s**t about what it takes to live in a box here.’

A ‘box’? Well that’s one way to describe the house they were sitting in front of and which their organisation had just bought — a 6,500 sq ft, seven-bedroom, seven-bathroom mansion in LA’s Studio City neighbourhood costing a cool $6million (£4.6million).

Emails show the firm wanted to keep the purchase secret, despite filming a video on the home’s patio in May

As well as a swimming pool, its palm tree-shaded grounds also boast a sound stage, music recording studio and two-bedroom guest house.

For an organisation dedicated to radical wealth distribution to help the disadvantaged, not to mention dismantling capitalism altogether, the deluxe property seems a curious choice. Which is surely why, according to an investigation by New York Magazine, the BLM leaders went to great pains to hide it.

The property was bought in cash in October 2020 with money donated to the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation, the original BLM organisation and an umbrella group for the worldwide movement.

Only two weeks earlier, it had received $66.5million (£51.1million) from the financial body processing the donations following the death of Mr Floyd.

New York Magazine reported that the house was purchased by a property developer named Dyane Pascall, who is financial manager for a company run by Cullors and her wife.

Within a week, according to California property records, Pascall transferred ownership of the house to a company established in Delaware, the tiny state known as ‘America’s Switzerland’ thanks to its notoriously opaque corporate-transparency rules.

According to New York Magazine: ‘The manoeuvre ensured that the ultimate identity of the property’s new owner was not disclosed to the public.’

Adding to the confusion, although the property had originally been bought for $3.1million, it was transferred to the Delaware company for $5.8million. The discrepancy between these two figures has yet to be explained.

Cullors, 38, came under fire last year for a slew of high-profile property purchases. She resigned after facing backlash from critics and supporters. BLM brass assert the latest purchase is above board, despite internal emails showing members attempting to cover up its existence when confronted with real estate records detailing the purchase

The video, posted in June, shows Cullors (not pictured) enjoying a ritzy brunch outside the estate with fellow officials Alicia Garza and Melina Abdullah, who have both since left the organization

Patrisse Cullors and Alicia Garza, and Melina Abdullah, allegedly laid out $6million to buy a 6500-square foot Southern California mansion (seen in background) Emails show the firm wanted to keep it secret, despite filming a video on its patio in May (pictured) – an incident officials in emails called a ‘hole’ in story given to the paper

As a charity, the BLM Global Network Foundation is supposed to list its donors and expenditure annually. But it reportedly hasn’t done so for 2020 or 2021. In February this year, the group stopped raising money online after California officials threatened to hold its leaders personally responsible for this lack of transparency.

Shalomyah Bowers, a Foundation board member, said in a statement that the organisation bought the mansion ‘with the intention for it to serve as housing and studio space for recipients of the Black Joy Creators Fellowship’ which will provide recording facilities for black ‘creatives’.

Bowers said the BLM Global Network Foundation had ‘always planned’ to disclose the house in legal filings this May and that it doesn’t serve as anyone’s personal residence.

Cullors claimed separately that the New York Magazine article had been ‘racist and sexist’ and ‘filled with misinformation, innuendo and incendiary opinions’. She said she had ‘never misappropriated funds’ and added that the house was bought ‘to be a safe space’ for black people in the community. It hadn’t been announced earlier as the building ‘needed repairs and renovation’, she claimed. New York Magazine said it stood by its story.

Cullors asked supporters to ‘understand the enormous pressure and fear that comes with living under the constant threat of white supremacist terror and real threats on my life and those of people I love’.

New York Magazine claimed BLM bosses have been staying at the mansion when they feel ‘unsafe’ in their own homes. It also noted that the statement didn’t address why, if it is a creative space, so little has been ‘created’ there since it was bought over a year ago.

BLMGNF filed IRS documents requesting to become a nonprofit in 2020 when millions of dollars in donations began pouring in after the police killing of George Floyd 

Financial and legal experts, meanwhile, have expressed grave concerns that the mansion was purchased — and is being run — in such a way as to blur the boundaries between the Foundation, which is a charity, and private companies owned by some of its leaders.

Paul Cullors, Patrisse’s brother, is ‘head of security’ at the house, while her mother was approved for a cleaning job there. Patrisse has even used the mansion’s kitchen to film her own cookery programme. Charity experts say an official investigation may be justified to ensure donations are being spent properly.

Patrisse Cullors and Alicia Garza set up Black Lives Matter in 2013 with fellow activist Opal Tometi, in protest at the acquittal of George Zimmerman, a neighbourhood-watch volunteer who had shot dead Trayvon Martin, a black 17-year-old, in Florida. Zimmerman pleaded self-defence.

Cullors, who came up with the social media hashtag ‘blacklivesmatter’, grew up in a poor neighbourhood of California’s San Fernando Valley, had a father who was in and out of prison and says she first experienced police racism as a nine-year-old when she watched officers harassing her brothers. As executive director of the BLM Global Network Foundation until last May, Cullors advocates abolishing the police, the Armed Forces and prisons (replacing the latter with a rehabilitation system for offenders).

She has compared Donald Trump to Adolf Hitler and has claimed that Communists such as Karl Marx, Lenin and China’s Chairman Mao provide ‘a new understanding around what our economies could look like’.

Garza, 41, like Cullors, is another hard-Left firebrand who believes that capitalism and ‘imperialism’ oppress ethnic minorities in the U.S. Their organisation states on its website that its founders are ‘radical Black organisers’ heading a decentralised ‘global network of more than 40 chapters’.

Following Floyd’s death in 2020, parts of the media showered these founders in accolades. The BBC put Cullors, Garza and Tometi on its 2020 list of ‘100 inspiring and influential women’.

Under ‘professional fees’ in the organization’s IRS Form 1023, BLMGNF listed $12,706,366 for 2020 and predicted a similar sum, $12.7million, on such costs for 2021 

The Times Literary Supplement gushed that Cullors’ 2018 memoir, When They Call You A Terrorist, was a ‘magnificent accomplishment’.

However, critics wondered if the BLM fan club had read the small print. In 2015, Cullors admitted that both she and Garza were ‘trained Marxists’. Echoing this, according to her publisher, Penguin Random House, Garza ‘describes herself as a queer social-justice activist and Marxist’.

Their organisation’s aims include ‘disrupting the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure requirement by supporting each other as extended families and ‘villages’ ‘.

Meanwhile, Black Lives Matter UK, a British version formed in 2016 when activists chained themselves together outside London City Airport claiming climate change is ‘racist’, listed its commitment to dismantling capitalism as a goal during 2020 whilst fundraising on the GoFundMe website.

The British group raised more than £1.2million but, as in America, quickly attracted calls to be more transparent about how it would spend the money and about the identity of its shadowy leadership.

BLM UK — which insists it is not Marxist — is not listed as an official ‘chapter’ of the U.S. organisation but it has been endorsed by Patrisse Cullors.

Supporters of BLM insist the movement is the victim of a disinformation campaign designed to smear it as Communist. But critics say it’s BLM that is guilty of peddling disinformation in passing itself off as singularly devoted to fighting racial injustice.

Either way, Karl Marx — who advocated that all private property be eliminated — would have taken a very dim view of ‘Marxists’ splashing out $6million on an LA mansion.

Grassroots BLM activists across the U.S. have already been wondering where all the donations were going, complaining how the senior leadership were swanning around doing lucrative speaking engagements and book deals while they were so starved of funds some were on the verge of homelessness.

It was only after BLM groups across the U.S. demanded greater transparency and accountability from the BLM Global Network Foundation and its leadership that the latter finally revealed, in spring 2021, that they had taken more than $90million in donations following George Floyd’s murder.

The subsequent decision by Patrisse Cullors to step down as the organisation’s boss (citing other interests including a book agreement) hardly satisfied critics, who said that she and her colleagues had been overcome by their own self-importance.

Two mothers of victims of police violence, Lisa Simpson and Samaria Rice (whose 12-year-old son was shot dead while playing with a toy gun), released a statement last May calling for the BLM Global Network Foundation to stop exploiting their suffering.

‘We don’t want or need y’all parading in the streets accumulating donations, platforms, movie deals, etc off the death of our loved ones, while the families and communities are left clueless and broke,’ they said.

It may be little surprise then that New York Magazine says the group went to great lengths to silence the latest scandal.

When pressed on their reasons for buying such an expensive property, the leadership circulated an internal-strategy memo discussing ways to ‘kill the story’ and adding: ‘Our angle — needs to be to deflate ownership of the property.’

One idea, to say it was used as a secret ‘safe house’ for threatened members, was dropped after a member pointed out they could hardly say it was secret when they were releasing videos filmed there.

One of these videos, filmed last year and uploaded to Cullors’ personal YouTube channel, is titled I Try Baking A Family Recipe For The FIRST Time *INTENSE*. It was billed as the first in a series called ‘Patrisse Tries’, a 13-minute segment filmed at the mansion’s ritzy soapstone kitchen island.

It’s also not surprising that the BLM leaders should think they could ‘kill’ the story given their success in the past. A compliant U.S. media, desperate not to undermine the racial justice struggle or be accused of racism, certainly helps.

In fact, it’s not even possible to share the New York Post’s 2021 exposé on Cullors’ property purchases on Facebook because the social media giant has bizarrely labelled the content ‘abusive’.

New York Magazine — the first Left-wing U.S. media outlet to dare to scrutinise BLM’s financial activities — said it had seen private messages that exposed the group’s efforts to monitor social media for any ‘negative mentions’ of the BLM Global Network Foundation and persuade the relevant companies to remove it.

The magazine said it also discovered the group routinely hires a private detective to dig into anyone criticising or investigating it — including the author of the $6million mansion report.

It’s not difficult to see why rank-and-file BLM activists and families of those killed by police feel livid and betrayed.

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