By Arjun Singh
A group of activists formerly associated with Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation (BLMGNF) sued the organization in a California court Friday, alleging that its leader siphoned off funds raised by the non-profit for personal expenses.
The group, named the Black Lives Matter Grassroots, alleges in its lawsuit that Shalomyah Bowers, the current head of BLMGNF, is a “rogue administrator” and “usurper” who siphoned “more than $10 million” from the organization for his “personal piggy bank.” It also accused him of breaching his fiduciary duty as an organization officer.
In stating its cause for damages, the activists claim that Bowers and BLMGNF misrepresented activism conducted by BLM Grassroots as being affiliated with their organization, and used the impression to fundraise. They also allege that Bowers, as the organization’s sole voting member, awarded grants to his own for-profit consulting firm (of which he is the sole member) to personally acquire funds raised by the organization.
The plaintiffs claim that BLMGNF denied BLM Grassroots access to social media accounts bearing the “Black Lives Matter” name and official verification, which have a total of five million followers on Instagram and Twitter.
The lawsuit was filed in the Los Angeles County Superior Court on five counts, which included fraud and unjust enrichment. The suit seeks punitive and compensatory damages for “lost donations, reputation harm, damage to goodwill, increased costs” to BLMGR. It did not specify an amount sought.
BLMLA (grassroots) has filed a lawsuit against Shalomyah Bowers, the board secretary of Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation, for mismanagement of funds and locking Melina Abdullah out of social media accounts. pic.twitter.com/RSt1lYXQNw
— The Voice of Black L.A (@BLACKLAVOICE) September 2, 2022
BLMGNF, the defendant, is the organization recognized by most to represent the “Black Lives Matter” movement, which was founded in 2013 by activists Alicia Garza, Ayo Tometti, and Patrisse Cullors in response to the deaths of black men after altercations with police. Though the three original founders have since left the organization, Bowers became its principal officer in 2021.
BLM Grassroots, the plaintiff, is a group purportedly comprising former Black Lives Matter activists who have since left the organizational structure of BLMGNF. According to records reviewed by the New York Post, it was founded in June by Walter Mosley, the lawyer who filed the suit on the group’s behalf.
In a statement posted on its website, BLMGNF claimed that the allegations in the lawsuit are “false,” “slanderous,” and “devoid of reality.” It claimed that it had requested, on “over ten occasions,” meetings with the plaintiffs to mediate their differences, but that they had been ignored.
The lawsuit comes at a time when BLMGNF has faced heavy public criticism for its financial management. Eight states have revoked the organization’s charitable status, and California Attorney General Rob Bonta warned that it was “delinquent” on the filing of reports, which suspended its ability to raise and spend money.
A Daily Caller News Foundation investigation found the organization’s former head, Patrisse Cullors, used her position within the organization to funnel business to the father of her child, Damon Turner.
Cullors has faced criticism for having paid over $2 million to family members and affiliates for consulting work, including Turner and brother Paul Cullors, as well as the purchase of a $6 million mansion in Los Angeles that was used for personal purposes. (RELATED: BLM Co-Founder Patrisse Cullors Has Funneled Business To Company Run By Father Of Her Only Child, Records Show)
In 2020, an investigation by the Daily Caller News Foundation revealed that Black Lives Matter’s fiscal sponsor had transferred $90,000 to an imposter group.
Bowers, BLMGNF and Mosley did not immediately respond to requests for comment from the Daily Caller News Foundation.