Saturday, February 24

Black Lives Matter’s $6M California house draws scrutiny


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A $6 million southern California house used by Black Lives Matter leadership has been shrouded in secrecy, with a new report putting the organization in damage control mode.

According to New York Magazine, the 6,500-square-foot building known among BLM leaders as “Campus” was purchased with cash in October 2020, using funds donated to Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation.

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“Our angle — needs to be to deflate ownership of the property,” an internal BLM memo said, according to the report, after the New York Magazine reporter asked them about the house. That suggestion was one of several responses floated, with others including, “Can we kill the story?”

The same memo reportedly included bullet points about Campus, such as how it is used by the “cultural arm” of BLM, and could be used as an “influencer house” where artists can create content, and as a “safehouse.” The memo also reportedly acknowledged “[h]oles” in what it called the “security story,” as the house would be used for publicly available YouTube videos.

Two days after the reporter reached out to BLMGNF, board member Shalomyah Bowers emailed a statement claiming that BLMGNF purchased the property “with the intention for it to serve as housing and studio space for recipients of the Black Joy Creators Fellowship,” a program that was reportedly announced the next day as providing “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.”

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“It’s a waste of resources,” Tory Russell, an activist based in Ferguson, Missouri, told New York Magazine. Russell has reportedly been trying to raise money for a community center in Ferguson, and had been trying to get BLMGNF to contribute.

BLMGNF had just received $66.5 million before the purchase of the house, raised after the death of George Floyd. Two weeks after the group got the money, Dyane Pascall bought the property. Pascall, the report says, manages finances for an LLC run by Patrisse Cullors, who at the time was BLMGNF’s executive director. 

Pascall then reportedly transferred ownership of the house to another LLC set up by law firm Perkins Coie. It was after the property officially changed hands that Black Lives Matter started using it.

Two months after the purchase, BLMGNF was granted tax-exempt status by the IRS, but while that means they must now reveal donor and expenditure information, they reportedly failed to submit the necessary forms in 2020 or 2021.

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Bowers claimed in her statement that the organization “always planned” to list the house in disclosures to be filed this year. She stated that the building is not used as anyone’s home, and was bought through LLCs as a matter of liability protection.

Fox News reached out to BLMGNF for comment on the New York Magazine report, but they did not immediately respond.

The California house is not the only expensive Black Lives Matter property. BLM Canada announced in 2021 that they were buying a mansion to be used as a Black community center in Toronto. Reports later showed that public records listed the purchase included $6.3 million paid to a nonprofit set up by people including Janaya Khan, who is married to Cullors.

Two BLM Toronto leaders quit the organization, citing the handling of the group’s finances in their resignation letter.

“We have written this because our many attempts to bring up concerns were met with denial, gaslighting, and a refusal to acknowledge requests for accountability,” they said. “We were told that concerns about financial transparency and community accountability were rumours, ‘not a big deal,’ and whispers from so-called ‘counter-organizers.’”

According to New York Magazine, Campus has barely been used to produce content, despite that being one of its stated purposes. One video that was produced there had nothing to do with BLM, but was a video of Cullors baking a peach cobbler as part of a planned series for her personal YouTube channel. It is now listed as private.

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Another video, from May 2021, featured Cullors and BLM leaders Alicia Garza and Melina Abdullah sitting on the patio commemorating the first anniversary of Floyd’s death. In it, Cullors reportedly lamented how right-wing media had targeted her and the organization, specifically pointing to a New York Post article about how she spent approximately $3 million for four homes.

Cullors resigned days after recording the video, which is also now listed as private.

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