BLM’s two newest board members share close ties to Patrisse Cullors
The national Black Lives Matter group elevated two activists with close ties to the charity’s embattled co-founder and former Director Patrisse Cullors to its board of directors in late April.
Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation said the activists, Cicley Gay and D’Zhane Parker, will sit on its board alongside longtime member Shalomyah Bowers, who is also closely tied to Cullors. Notably absent from the charity’s announcement was any mention of Hillary Clinton ally Minyon Moore, who was identified as a BLM board member in filings the group submitted to California in February.
The appointments suggest that BLM is either unwilling or unable to find leadership outside Cullors’s circle of influence.
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It’s not clear if Moore continues to sit on BLM’s board. The charity said in February that Moore had been “required to cease all involvement in matters pertaining to her work with Black Lives Matter” while she was an adviser to President Joe Biden during Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson’s confirmation process in February.
Moore did not return requests for comment.
Gay, Parker, and Bowers worked with a ballot initiative campaign led by Cullors in 2019.
Gay’s company, The Amplifiers, received $53,000 from the campaign, Reform LA Jails, for consulting services in 2019, campaign filings show.
Gay has been the chairwoman of the BLM board of directors since April, according to her LinkedIn page.
Parker earned $20,500 as the lead organizer for Reform LA Jails in 2019, the filings show.
Also in 2019, Bowers Consulting Firm, the company led by Bowers, raked in over $280,000 from Reform LA Jails while the group was under Cullors’s control.
Reform LA Jails’s campaign filings from 2019 identified Cullors as the group’s “controlling officeholder” and Bowers as its treasurer.
Cullors resigned from BLM in May 2021 amid scrutiny of her personal real estate purchases. In October 2020, when she was still in charge of the charity, BLM purchased a $6 million Los Angeles mansion in cash and then took steps to conceal the purchase from the public.
While Cullors has claimed to have no involvement with BLM since she resigned from the group, members of her immediate family, including her brother, mother, and sister, work at the charity’s Los Angeles mansion, according to internal communications obtained by New York Magazine.
BLM has weathered a storm of scrutiny since the Washington Examiner reported in January that the charity had no known leader since Cullors resigned in May 2021. The two activists Cullors appointed as her replacements quietly announced in September that they never took the jobs because of disagreements with BLM.
In the wake of the Washington Examiner’s reporting, states such as California issued legal threats to BLM over its lack of financial transparency. BLM voluntarily shut down its ability to raise funds in early February as it worked to resolve registration problems in multiple states.
As of Wednesday afternoon, BLM’s online fundraising streams remain shuttered.
BLM was originally due to report by November a Form 990 disclosure with the IRS revealing what it did with the $90 million it raised in 2020 following the police killing of George Floyd in November. The charity bought itself a few more months to report its finances by changing its fiscal year, a move one charity watchdog described to the Washington Examiner as “the worst transparency issue” she had ever seen.
Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita filed a lawsuit last week against BLM for failing to provide information about its finances.
Cullors said in April that charity transparency laws are “triggering” as she faced scrutiny over BLM’s lack of financial transparency during her time as the charity’s leader.
Cullors said activists suffer trauma and their lives are put at risk when charities under their control are required to disclose publicly what they did with their tax-deductible donations.
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“This doesn’t seem safe for us, this 990 structure — this nonprofit system structure,” Cullors said. “This is, like, deeply unsafe. This is being literally weaponized against us, against the people we work with.”